Spring 2021 - ENGL 212 D100

Metrics and Prosody (3)

Class Number: 4126

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Instructor:

    Nicky Didicher
    1 604 444-3303
    Office: working from home
  • Prerequisites:

    Two 100 division English courses OR formal declaration in the creative writing minor.



A study of different historical methods of measuring poetry in English, with practice in scanning and analyzing poems using different methods of quantitative analysis (e.g. Syllabic, rhythmic, alliterative). Quantitative.


Taking the Measure of Poetry
Does analyzing poetry scare you? Do you feel shaky in the knees when you hear the words “anapestic tetrameter”? Let this course change your fear to confidence! It will introduce students to scansion (a system of representing rhythmic patterns in English poetry) and the analysis of scanned lines in different kinds of verse, focusing on the accentual-syllabic meter primarily in use from 1500 to 1900 CE. We will explore other traditional meters such as syllabic and accentual meters. Students will apply scansion and metrical analysis to a variety of poems from many periods in English literature, linking metrics to other poetic elements such as verse form and sound patterns. We will engage in a variety of practice analyses (asynchronous, with optional synchronous online sessions) which will prepare students for a more extensive analysis in the essay assignment. Creative writing assignments will allow students to put their knowledge of metrics into poetic practice.
Note: This course is accredited as Quantitative Analysis (Q) and its intent is to give English Majors and Minors a practical grounding in poetic analysis which will assist them in 300- and 400-level poetry courses. Skill in Mathematics is not a requirement.


Educational Goals for this course reflect the Q criteria

Q criteria Goals for Engl 212: by the end of the semester, students will be able to…
deepening understanding and appreciation of quantitative and formal reasoning reduce their fear of quantitative and formal reasoning, have a sense of confidence and mastery
learning systems of abstract representation use scansion to analyse accentual-syllabic poetry, and recognize, describe, and analyse poems which use other metrical systems
using model building and problem solving, both in class and in course assignments solve puzzles presented by poems in unidentified meters; relate meter & rhythm to verse form and poetic content
seeing creative potential of quantitative and formal reasoning use knowledge of metrical systems and scansion to create and revise their own poetry
engaging more effectively with the subject matter of the programs and practical everyday situations use scansion to gather evidence in essays they write in other English courses; have a deeper understanding of poetics in English

other Educational Goals: at the end of this course, students will have

  • read and discussed a wide variety of poems from different centuries and cultures
  • challenged their assumptions about what kinds of poetry are valuable/effective
  • reflected on their own learning   
  • enjoyed themselves more than they thought they would


  • • Essay (c. 2000 words), argumentative essay on a student-chosen poem, using metrical analysis in the evidence 35%
  • • Two online open book tests, 2 x 15% 30%
  • • Creative writing portfolio 25%
  • • Participation, based largely on weekly homework assignments 10%


Details on the course requirements will be in a Canvas content module.


Because course delivery will almost certainly be entirely online, students should have access to a computer and the internet. There will be optional weekly online meetings in Canvas Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, but students unable to attend these should be able to complete the course satisfactorily through asynchronous means. The two tests will be online and open book, designed to take one hour but with a two-hour completion window in Canvas. One will be in approximately week five and the other in approximately week ten of the term. The weekly homework assignments will be a mix of scansion exercises (analysing poetic rhythm) and creative writing exercises.



Texts on poetry and poetics will be 1) available online from SFU's library and 2) excerpts of other texts legally scanned into Canvas modules—no purchase of course texts necessary. Individual published poems for analysis practice will be provided in .docx files.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).