New Course: The Poetry of the Victorian Period

Key information:

Name: The Poetry of the Victorian Period

Tutor: Professor Valentine Cunningham (Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford)

Number of Modules: 5

Module List:

  1. Repetition
  2. Presence and Absence
  3. Sadness and Melancholy
  4. Selfhood and the Self
  5. Self-Reflexivity


In this course, Professor Valentine Cunningham (University of Oxford) explores Victorian Poetry, looking specifically at the poetry of Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Thomas Hardy. As we move through the course, we think about five key concepts in Victorian poetry: firstly, the use of repetition; secondly, presence and absence; thirdly, sadness and melancholy; fourthly, self and selfhood; and fifthly, self-reflexivity.

Relevance to Specification:

This course is designed for students reading Victorian poetry, particularly students studying poems from ‘The Victorian Period’ option for Edexcel AS/A Level GCE in English Literature.


New Course: How to Read Poetry

Key Information:

Name: How to Read Poetry

Tutor: Professor John Lennard

Modules: 15

Module List:

  1. Metre 1: Rhythm
  2. Metre 2: Scansion
  3. Form 1: Internal Baggage
  4. Form 2: External Baggage
  5. Layout
  6. Lineation
  7. Punctuation
  8. Rhyme 1: Definition and Degrees
  9. Rhyme 2: Type, Position and Relation
  10. Diction 1: The Scale of Choice
  11. Diction 2: The Demands of Register
  12. Syntax
  13. History
  14. Biography and Gender
  15. Close Reading and Beyond


In this course, Professor John Lennard talks through the craft of poetry in a course that draws on his international bestseller, The Poetry Handbook, which has been a favourite with both sixth-form students and undergraduates since its first publication in 1996. As we move through the course, we look at every technical aspect of poetry, including metre, form, layout, lineation, rhyme, diction, syntax, before thinking about how much readers of poetry should draw on historical and biographical context when analysing and interpreting poetry.

Throughout the course, technical discussion of poetry is richly illustrated with examples from some of the greatest poets in the English language, including: William Shakespeare, George Herbert, John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Wilfred Owen, W. B. Yeats, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, and Derek Walcott.