module specification

SJ5052 - Poetry and Performance (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Poetry and Performance
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Critical essay OR Poetry of up to 5 pages,
Coursework 50%   a review of 1750 words OR a CD of a performance of up to 10 minutes
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

Contemporary and historical relationships between poetry and performance are of central concern in the module Poetry and Performance. From oral poetry and performance in folk customs, to classical and Shakespearean traditions, from bardic ways to W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot, from blues and jazz to Patience Agbabi, John Hegley and Dizzee Rascal, there will be something to inspire everyone in the poetry and performance studied on the module. There will be opportunities for research and development of each student’s writing and/or performance style, and for immersing themselves in the sights and sounds of chosen performance cultures. Collective and individual poetry may be developed for performance. Students will be able to listen to a variety of poets performing and to consider their own response to the work in the process of developing research and writing. The module will be taught by weekly two-hour sessions comprising a lecture and seminar, and assessed by essays and reviews on performance poetry or by the creation, performance and recording of performance texts.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:
• to consider a range of post-war performance poets, poetry and movements
• to examine a variety of stylistic and thematic poetic and performance techniques
• to identify significant practical and theoretical aspects of contemporary performance poetry
• to establish connections between different media, location and disciplines e.g. sound and  musical accompaniment, visual accompaniment and staging
• to familiarize students with a range of performative skills and options, including live performance
• to develop critical and creative responses to performative aspects of poetry


This module will focus on performance poetry, poetry readings and poetry’s crossover with performing arts. A proliferation of performance styles in recent years provides a variety of styles to draw on – from folk, jazz and theatrical traditions to rap and slam, and the syllabus reflects the historical and cultural diversity of performance poetry and poetry in performance. Students will study anthologies and the structural principles of selection by which they operate, as well as gendered, themed and genre traditions. The module will also be concerned with researching practical aspects of performance and field research such as enquiries about venues, festivals, readings and dramatic performances. Performers and writers studied may include some of the following:  Jayne Cortez, Jack Kerouac, Ishmael Reed, Bob Dylan, Carol Ann Duffy, Patience Agbabi, John Hegley, Wendy Cope, Grace Nichols, John Agard, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Dizzee Rascal, Ms Dynamite, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Albert Wendt, Teresia Teaiwa, and Sia Figiel. 

Learning and teaching

This module will be taught in weekly sessions, which will combine lectures, writing practice, seminar discussion, small group activities and some film viewing. Teaching will be supported by guided blended learning on a weekly basis. Enhancement of class teaching outside the university environment and in the evenings may be included. The course guide will be available on Weblearn, as will other resources supporting the course. Students will be expected to complete tasks prior to classes, including reading set texts, and make a meaningful contribution to classes. The module will encourage students to make choices that emphasize creative or literary critical aspects of the course but it will also encourage combinations of the two.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

• identify significant performance movements, locations and poets
• analyze contemporary poetry in terms of context, close reading, poetic and performance techniques
• demonstrate a creative and/or critical engagement with contemporary performance poetry
• situate poetry performance in terms of cultural, poetic and critical historical traditions
• contribute informed responses to group work, performance planning and general discussion 

Assessment strategy

You will be assessed via a combination of these options:

First assessment

• critical essay on poetry and performance of 1750 words (50%)OR
• poetry of up to 5 pages, each with 350 words of critical commentary (50%)

Second assessment:

• a review of 1750 words of one or more poetry collections or one or more performance CDs (50%)
• a CD of a performance of up to 10 minutes of poetry (the student’s own or someone else’s) with accompanying critical commentary of 1750 words maximum (50%)

Students’ seminar contribution (including attendance, punctuality, preparation and contribution to discussions) will contribute towards their assessment since all students will be expected to comment on shared discussions and class work as part of the assignment. Students will be expected in assignments to show an understanding of performance and poetic forms, their history and how this is connected to theme, cultural and social conditions, language and location.

Assessment total 3500 words.


Anderson, Linda, Creative Writing Milton Keynes, Routledge, 2006
Duffy, Carol Ann The World’s Wife Picador, 2010
Eleveld,  Mark (ed), The Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Sourcebooks Inc, 2007
Olson, Alix (ed.) Word Warriors: 25 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, Seal Press, 2007
Pravsnitz, Maja Velocity: The Best of Apples and Snakes Black Spring Press, 2003
Smith, Marc Kelly and Kraynak, Joe  Take the Mic: The Art of Performance Poetry, Slam, and the Spoken Word, Mediafusion, 2009
Wade, Stephen A straight forward guide to writing performance poetry Brighton : Straightforward, 2007