Friday, May 24, 2013


This site contains all the course documentation, materials, and assignments for USSY 289E: Poets of Ohio taught by Joshua Ware, Ph.D. during Spring semester 2013 at Case Western Reserve University. Due to the blog format, all information reads in reverse chronological order.

The course, generally speaking, sought to familiarize students with the genre of poetry, first by establishing stylistic, aesthetic, and conceptualize foundations common to contemporary poetry. To do so, we read James Longenbach's The Resistance to Poetry, coupled with individual poems written by a wide variety of Ohio poets.

For the next phase of the course, we read full-length collections by six different Ohio poets. Once they read each collection, students wrote a 2-page response paper that developed connections between the primary text and Longenbach's book. During our class sessions, we discussed their thoughts and ideas about the text. The following session, the poet would come to campus for a reading and a question-and-answer segment. To this end, we attempted to answer the following questions, which the syllabus' course description posed:
Why do poetic texts, both of the present and the past, seem so difficult to read and understand? What writing techniques, strategies, and styles do poets use that make comprehending their work such a challenge? More importantly, why would anyone choose to write in this manner? Through close reading of our primary texts, researching the historical and literary contexts surrounding contemporary poetry, and discussing the art form with each other (as well as with the poets themselves), we will come to a better understanding of how these texts function.
Ultimately, these writing assignments, discussions, readings, and q-&-a sessions offered students several different learning environments in which to engage, think about, and understand contemporary poetry.

This class was also designed to explore and develop the idea of community, specifically local and regional communities that thrive outside of mainstream culture. As the course description in the syllabus also states that:
But more than just acquainting you with this style of writing, our course will highlight the large and dynamic poetry community of Ohio. Luckily for us, many of the poets we will read during the course agreed to visit our class this semester to talk about their work and read their poems. 
To this extent, our course will explore the local and national poetry communities, noting how writers found relationships upon geography, aesthetics, and demographics (just to name a few), using written texts to express emotion, thought, or identity. In order to accomplish these goals, we will read, participate in class discussions, and write extensively about poetry composed by contemporary Ohio poets. Therefore, you will be expected to engage our course texts critically, thinking through the manner in which language operates as a tool for generating and sustaining, as well as undermining, community formation.
It was a goal of this course, then, not just to acquaint students with contemporary poetry, but challenge them to consider about how we can become proactive leaders and supportive members within marginalized communities.

For more information on this course, please explore this blog. You can also check out videos of and commentary by the poets on Vouched Books website by clicking on their names: Mary Biddinger, Phil Metres, Frank Giampietro, Dana Ward, Cathy Wagner, and Sarah Gridley.


DUE: 02 MAY 2012


Your final project presents you with an opportunity to explore a topic you find interesting that relates to contemporary poetry being composed by poets living and writing in Ohio. The essay should provide you the chance to consider different the perspectives, arguments, and contexts that shape your subject matter, tell a certain history, or persuade an audience in a certain way.Your task will be to write a research essay in your own academic voice, integrating primary and secondary source material, and employing argumentative strategies. The paper should be a persuasive argument, but you are free to take whatever angle you choose. That is, you are free to develop your own position and solutions, etc. As you are already well aware, you need to conduct research and rely upon a significant body of source material in the form of articles, books, interviews, field research, surveys, and other secondary sources.


The paper should be 10-12 double-spaced pages that are typed in 12-point Times New Roman font and formatted according to proper academic conventions. You will use MLA style in order to learn the standard documentation convention for writing in academic world. The first page of your document should have a heading that is properly formatted and include a relevant title. Each subsequent page should have your last name and the page number in the upper right corner (in the header), and you should include a separate Works Cited in which you identify all referenced texts.


Your paper must be an argument, not a report. In other words, the entire essay should be designed to support a thesis statement through strategic use of your research and through effective use of argumentative strategies. To this extent, you should consider how to integrate effectively the multiple sources, perspectives, arguments you have been researching. I will meet with each one of you in one-on-one session to help you further refine your topic so that it is both relevant for this course and manageable for a project of this scope. Also, look to see that you have incorporated the following in the paper itself: 

A strong, unique, specific, and compelling thesis 
A fully developed introduction, body, and conclusion 
Strategic use of argumentation 
Strategic incorporation of your research as a means to support your claims through evidence (primary and secondary sources, interviews, statistics, analogies, examples, etc.) 
If pertinent to your subject: Visual rhetoric, or how visual mediate, shape, create a particular controversy, situation, issue, or phenomenon. Visual rhetoric should be both the lens of analysis and the key primary source focus 
An articulation of the context and significance of this problem

Development of your persona and a strong statement of your purpose 
The proposal of some kind of solution to the problem at hand or the delineation of a new way of looking at the issue 
Organization of your writing with attention to overall coherence, transitions, balance between parts, and the relationship of part to whole 
Understanding of the conventions of academic discourse (correct usage, diction, syntax, grammar, and documentation format) 
Documentation of sources cited using MLA style (or APA) in the body and the Works Cited page 
Insertion of images according to academic convention (Figure 1, etc.) and printed in clear ink, clean paper, in color 
No typos, careless errors, or proofreading mistakes that decrease credibility and destroy ethos