Course Description

Welcome to American Poetry in the Twentieth Century

This course focuses on American poetry in the 20th century. We will study the different ways that American writers have used poetry to express the experience of modern life. Through lectures and class activities, we will learn how to read, analyze, discuss and write about poetry as well as think about the relationship of the poetry to the society and culture of the times. Some lectures and readings will focus on popular American music in the 20th century. We will learn about the differences between poetry and popular song lyrics and think about the ways popular music has been used to express life in modern America.

Class Activities

There will be lectures each week, introducing poets, poems (or songs) and the culture and history of the times.

You will be assigned one poem (or song) to read each week. You will write a short response to the poem in your class notebook and bring the book to help you participate in discussion with your classmates. You will also keep your lecture notes in the class notebook.


The class notebook is worth 50% of your final grade. I will check your notebook regularly.

There will be one or two quizzes and a mid-term test based on poems and lectures (20%).

There will also be a short analytical essay (4-5 pages) on a poem of your choice (30%).

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