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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Modern American Poetry by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

95 ratings

About the Course

Twelve experienced faculty members from across the United States present their analyses of ground-breaking modern American poets in richly illustrated video lectures. The course highlights both major poets—from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson through T.S. Eliot, H.D., Amy Lowell, Hart Crane, Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, and many others—and influential movements. The course mixes historical overview with close readings of individual poets and poems. Most courses give only one instructor’s point of view. This one matches the diversity of US poetry with lectures by a score of talented faculty. They bring their special perspective to the material while also presenting a coherent view of more than fifty years of US poetry. Throughout the course the lectures are illustrated with vivid images of the events, people, and places mentioned in the poems themselves. Readings by both the poets themselves and experienced faculty highlight the texts. On screen displays of text and quotations make it easy to follow the material. This is a course that takes advantage of the medium to bring you sights and sounds that would be difficult to incorporate in classroom lectures....

Top reviews


Aug 5, 2016

In depth, and eye opening to many American poets. A great mind expander and real introduction to the poetry of the Native Americans. Brilliant.


Sep 2, 2020

Modern American Poetry course is such a wonderful one. It helps me a lot to know about American poetry, poets, movement, and literary reviews.

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1 - 25 of 25 Reviews for Modern American Poetry

By Ruth M

Apr 15, 2016

Although I'm only the first week, there are two main comments I'd like to make.

Firstly, why are the lectures sub-divided with the ridiculous, overlong, and irritating introduction for each section. In lesson one, this was repeated 11 times. What a waste of time!

Secondly, the transcripts are in rich text, which is basically unreadable, has no line breaks, which makes reading the poems impossible, and the transcripts are poorly transcribed, making them illiterate.

I feel I may not continue with the course for these reasons, even though the content is really interesting.

This is the worst presented MOOC I have encountered.....I have completed 6, and am undertaking another 2, with edxcel and with futurelearn

By P. P R

Sep 3, 2020

Modern American Poetry course is such a wonderful one. It helps me a lot to know about American poetry, poets, movement, and literary reviews.

By Claude C

Jun 15, 2020

very intense but excellent a either an introduction or anyone wishing to gain more in-depth knowledge

By AndreaC

Sep 12, 2017

Great Lectures, big content, high academic level But...

Lectures are deeply dull: all but 5 or 6 (on nearly 70) are long static videos of a lecturer speaking like he/she is reading, sometimes even robot-like speeches, no cacthy at all.

Sessions are based on Peer Evaluation, but often to find peers is a problem. I worked hard to do my assignment on time, then I had to switch sessions because no one was assessing my work.

By James T

Nov 15, 2016

A class on Modern American Poetry and Ezra Pound was only treated secondarily? Crazy!

As well, much of my time on recommended reading was spent looking for the poetry. Why are there no links to the poetry we are learning about?

By Nicolas P

Jul 6, 2020

I liked the course, though I have to say I found certain chapters inaccessible as a non-native speaker. This particularly applies to "The Bridge." I felt kind of lost in the lecture and could not make much sense of the poem either. Maybe I will return to it later on and have another go.

I'm not sure I can agree Emily Dickinson's poem in the module on metapoetry is metapoetic, as defined by the lecturer. Although apart from that, that module was great and refreshing, because of an altered format, which brings me to the next point:

I think the lectures are kind of monotonous both visually and in terms of content delivery. The previous courses I took on Coursera (Python for Everybody specialization) were so alive I literally had the sense I was sitting next to the professor and he was talking to me. In Modern American Poetry, the lectures sounded as if they were being read word for word (which was probably the case) and seeing just the professor reading and the bookshelf behind them most of the time detracted from the experience. Perhaps it would be better if some "slide-like" elements were added, not just with verses, but perhaps with the dates of the events mentioned, diagrams, or something. I know there were some, but after watching all of the lectures, it really feels like hours of watching a single person reading in the frame + opening/closing sequence + photos + verses. Those dates, diagrams and other pop-up data, if they were there, didn't really register for me. Perhaps there were too few in proportion to how long the "talking head" remains in the frame.

Also, I realize this might be due to people in the U.S. taking copyright seriously, but for me, it was absolutely infuriating that some of the poems assigned or suggested for reading were so hard to find online I eventually abandoned all hope to do it. I was glad I had poetry collections of many of the poets mentioned prior to starting the course, but if I were a complete beginner, that would probably annoy me even more. I mean, one listens to the lecture, reads the text, makes an honest attempt to understand it, but on top of that, so much effort is needed to find the full texts of some of the poems mentioned in the lectures.

I think the guidelines for doing and grading the written assignments should put more emphasis on independent thinking and proposing ideas of one's own. The way they are formulated, some people tend to just repeat whatever is said in the lecture, referencing the videos and the poems here and there and making a point of sounding polite and clear, but that really does not add anything. I feel it is much more valuable to add one thought of your own than reiterate five points already made in the lecture, more or less. But the way I read the grading recommendations, that is not explicitly encouraged, so some people just avoid it and probably get high grades on peer review, because that is not really required.

By Joseph W

Sep 20, 2016

This iteration of the course (August-September 2016) fizzled because so few students were actively participating. Early in the course, I worked diligently on my written contributions to the discussion forums, but then there was so little peer response that I gradually came to understand that I was mostly just talking to myself. Halfway through the course, I gave up on the forums.

But I read all the poems, viewed the videos and took the quizzes. The quizzes are lame, the poetry selection is great, and the video lectures are all worthwhile.

I had initial misgivings about some of the videos. The improvised round-table discussions of meta-poems by Dickinson, Stevens and Mullen (module 4, lesson 4) initially seemed too colloquial and not incisive, but then I realized they had value as models for how to grope into an initial understanding of a strange poem. The lecture on Hart Crane (module 1, lesson 4) was too difficult for me to follow in real-time spoken form, but then I found I could understand some of it by frequently stopping and starting the video, re-reading the lecture text in transcript, and taking long breaks for careful review of Crane's verse and for research about some of its allusions and associations. That lecture might have made more sense in purely written form, and I wonder if it was so daunting that it scared off some of the students who started the course.

As a whole, the course managed a satisfying balance between discussion of the poetry itself and discussion of the social and economic contexts in which the poetry was created and consumed. I especially appreciated the clarity of Karen Ford's many lectures and Tim Newcomb's lively and enthusiastic investigation of the role of little magazines in the 1910s & 1920s.

By Eric O

Jun 22, 2016

A pretty good overview of modern poetry. Very high on generalities and low on details - like detailed readings of individual poems.

The fact the the majority of the instructors just read their lectures and many of them never look up at the camera at all makes this seem very lazy and impersonal. There's very little of the engagement that would really make this interesting.

By Cindy P

Jul 2, 2021

A phenomenal course! This experience far exceeded my expectations and I learned more than what I thought possible. The lectures were excellent and thorough. The history of modern American poetry is vast and many layered and this course proved it. I highly recommend the course and the professors who who taught it. Very grateful for the experience of having learned so much. THANK YOU!

By Steven P

Jul 14, 2017

I don't have time and money to complete the course but this was so enlightening and a great intro to Modern American Poetry. There were a lot of things I didn't even realize I didn't know. This makes me definitely more eager to investigate more! Thank you so much for this opportunity.

By Diana K

May 12, 2018

I am really grateful for being a part of this course. It was a wonderful experience! All professors are unique and all the lectures are thought-provoking and creative.

By Liam G

Aug 6, 2016

In depth, and eye opening to many American poets. A great mind expander and real introduction to the poetry of the Native Americans. Brilliant.

By Cecilia E A d F

Oct 5, 2021

I'm an English teacher and with this course I could upgrade my knowledge and develop my professional career.

By Nancy R

Feb 13, 2020

This course was challanging and I loved it

By Moshe S

Jun 10, 2016

Top quality lectures, so far....

By Andy E

Aug 12, 2020

A very good course

By Daniel P

Jul 15, 2020

loved this course!

By nanrm610 n

May 29, 2021


By Ambreen B

Oct 26, 2022


By Joy S

Jan 13, 2017

Good overall review: I encountered stuff I did not know before. Just a little highbrow.

By Shabab N K

Oct 27, 2016

It was really hard to complete the course as not enough peer reviewers were there. Had to switch sessions twice.


Feb 27, 2023

This is am ambitious course. I enrolled because my undergraduate degree is in Literature. I wanted to take more detailed poetry courses. While the course content is comprehensive I walk away from the course dismayed, once again, by the grading policy and the peer reviews. It is a course where your WAIT inordinate amounts of time for a grade on a peer review, which delays completing the certificate. This in fact is an ongoing problem I have with COURSERA sadly.

By Giel B

Mar 3, 2023

I am sorry to have to stop with this course, because the content is very interesting. However, the way most lecturers present their material, i.e. by reading from a screen at the side of the camera or, even worse, from a paper in their hands, is a powerful recipe for a very boring and demotivating lecture. What is the added value of this format? I'd rather read the text ....

By Alberto G G

Jan 3, 2023

Don't waste your money, do it for free. Your certificate depends on other students' willingness to grade your work and this never gets done on time. I have to reset deadlines and I don't know if I'll eventually get my certificate

By Ritsumei

Feb 6, 2020

I'm interested in the good, the beautiful, and the true. This course wallows in the ugly, the nonsensical, and the ribald. Pass, thanks.