English course compares rock music to poetry (via The Lantern)

Poetry isn’t only found in old books, it’s also broadcasted on the radio.

A course offered by the Ohio State Department of English looks at alternative rock lyrics as poetry. Alternative Rock Lyrics as Poems will be offered in Spring 2017 as an upper-division level course for English majors, English 4560, and as a Cultures and Ideas GE course, English 3364, which will also include an introduction to poetry.

“In the 19th century, poetry was part of everyday life, and now people think it is not,” said Elizabeth Renker, an English professor who created the class a decade ago. “(We have) forgotten that song lyrics are a form of poetry and song lyrics are the primary place, in my opinion, where poetry lives in our culture.”

A common theme that Renker says she’s seen across her time teaching poetry is that people have a lot of anxiety about the subject. She says she consistently hears two common responses: “I just don’t get poetry” and “I’ve never understood poetry.”

She said the tone of self-doubt and inferiority bothered her, so she tried to get students in her classes in touch with a particular poem by using an analogy to a contemporary song. When students responded positively, she thought it would be worth making a class of its own.

Click here for more information.


The Lantern | Ohio State University | Elizabeth Renker

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