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Course Description:

In this fast-paced course we will read and encounter and discuss a great range of modern and contemporary U.S. poets working in the ""experimental mode,"" starting with the 19th-century proto-modernists Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and ending with 21st-century conceptual poetics. Aside from providing a perhaps handy or helpful survey and chronology of 20th- and 21st-century poetry, this course offers a way of understanding general cultural transitions from modernism to postmodernism. Some people may wish to enroll as much to gain an understanding of the modernism/postmodernism problem through a study of poetry as to gain access to the work of these many poets. Participants do not need to have any prior knowledge of poetry or poetics. The instructor, Al Filreis, rarely lectures, and frequently calls for ""the end of the lecture as we know it""; instead, most of the video-recorded lessons will consist of collaborative close readings led by Filreis, seminar-style -- offering models or samples of readers' interpretations of these knotty but powerful poems, aided by the poetry-minded denizens of the Kelly Writers House on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

In-course Textbooks

As a student enrolled in this course, you will have free access to selected chapters and content for the duration of the course. All chapters were selected by the instructor specifically for this course. You will be able to access the Coursera edition of the e-textbook via an e-reader in the class site hosted by Chegg. If you click on “Buy this book”, you will be able to purchase the full version of the textbook, rather than the limited chapter selection in the Coursera edition. This initiative is made possible by Coursera’s collaboration with textbook publishers and Chegg.

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Course Reviews (18)
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Raymond Maxwell

November 14, 2013

I am a two time member of the Coursera MOOC, ModPo (Modern and Contemporary American Poetry). As ModPo winds down, I am starting a course, Web Science, and reflecting on the use of language as a sort of technology that humans shape and that shapes us. So I am taking the ideas of technological determinism and social shaping (constructivism of a type) of language, in poetry, and applying them to what we are learning about the web and the Internet. I think there may be some interesting parallels. Poets like Whitman and Dickinson changed the "technology" of poetry writing and thinking and spawned new "movements." From the Imagists school and the "Harlem" Renaissance we get to the post-war Beats, to the New York school, to the Language Poets. Then with the invention of the World Wide Web, we see a new generation of poets, experimenting with using computer technology to shape the technology of language expression through poetry, in random word generations, mesostic and other aleatory technologies to create new forms of expression based on remnants of the old data. As we continue Web Science, I will be applying what we learn about the web to poetry and poetry to it in a reciprocal way. ModPo alums will continue ModPo in the off season, working on our own poetry, re-reading pieces we rushed through, and checking out the local poetry scene. Poetry is ubiquitous, and ModPo is the vehicle that brings it fully into our lives.

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Moshe Shimony

November 14, 2013

So much was written about this course, by its current and past students. The Facebook page of the course is full with thousands of posts and comments and likes and there are thousands of ModPo students which are members of the ModPo group on Face book. Al Filreis, Professor Al Filreis and his group of TAs and with the wonderful Julia Bloch, has inspired tens of thousands of students with his way of teaching, close reading, and continuous contact with the students. He made us all love the American poetry, the modern, the Avant-garde, love and wish to continue learning, reading. The video discussions were always clear, well informing. The introduction for each week's lectures were super and the material was presented with top quality. I have bee studying and teaching for many many years. Never have seen such a quality and enthusiastic course, from both the Instructor's and TAs and from the students.

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