ModPo is a fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly "difficult." We encounter and discuss the poems one at a time. It's much easier than it seems! Join us and try it!
Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (“ModPo”)University of Pennsylvania
About this Course
Approx. 66 hours to complete
Approx. 66 hours to complete
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and considers itself to be the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will I have access to the lectures and assignments?
Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.
Is this course free?
Yes, ModPo is entirely free. There are no charges for any aspect of the course.
Are there any pre-requisites for ModPo?
No. You need not know anything about poetry in order to thrive in ModPo. So ModPo is for those who are new to poetry. It is for those who have perhaps always loved poetry but have not yet studied modern and/or experimental poetry. And it is also for poets and teachers who want to see what happens when a community of thousands comes together to talk about poems such folks already know well. In short, ModPo will work, in some way, for anyone and everyone! You will encounter people in ModPo who were once novices but are now participating in the course for a second, third or fourth time! We’re all in this together.
Will I earn a certificate if I complete ModPo?
Yes, but our certificate is unique to ModPo, our own design. In order to receive the special ModPo certificate of completion, you must: 1) post a comment in at least one poem-specific discussion forum for each of ModPo's ten weekly sections; 2) write and submit all four writing assignments; 3) write and submit at least four peer reviews for each of the 4 assignments (at least 16 total); and 4) take and pass all quizzes (you can retake them until you pass).
It seems that ModPo is an “on demand” course, and yet you talk about a 10-week “session” from early September to late November. Can you explain?
The ModPo site is open all year, accessible to anyone who enrolls for free. Each year, though, we convene for an intense 10-week session from early September to late November. During that time, Al Filreis and his colleagues, the TAs and Community TAs (“mentors”) are all constantly available, and the discussion forums are quite active and your ModPo colleagues will respond to your questions and comments almost instantly. During this annual 10-week ModPo session or "symposium," the TAs each offer weekly office hours each. And we host our weekly live webcasts. During the rest of the year—ModPo’s “off season” or what ModPo’ers call “SloPo”—discussions continue intermittently and in small groups. During that time, too, new poems and new videos are added to ModPoPLUS and the Teacher Resource Center. You are welcome to finish the course in the off season if you could not complete it during the 10-week session. Teachers and their students are encouraged to use the site as part of a class. Reading groups are also encourage to convene around the ModPo materials. If you enroll in ModPo you will continue to be enrolled unless or until you decide to un-enroll. We hope you will continue to participate.
I’ve heard about the weekly live webcasts? What are these?
We're proud of the fame of our webcasts. They are quite innovative. During the 10-week September-to-November session of the course, we host a fully interactive live webcast, broadcasting from the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia each week. You can participate by calling in by phone, by leaving a voicemail prior to the live session, by tweeting, by posting to the ModPo discussion forum, by commenting in our Periscope feed, or by coming in person to the Writers House. If you miss any live webcast, you can watch the recording later. Participation in ModPo webcasts are not part of the requirements for the certificate, but those who have been part of them have found them helpful and fun.
So is ModPo really a “course”?
Yes, it is a 10-week course.* But it is also an ongoing interpretive community. And it is an always open meeting place for people who want to talk about modern poetry. And it is an aid to teachers who are teaching poetry to their students. And it is an ever-expanding archive of resources (ModPoPLUS, the Teacher Resource Center, the Crowdsourced Close Readings videos).
[* Indeed, ModPo is based on a course that has been taught by Al Filreis at the University of Pennsylvania since 1985.]
Who is Al Filreis?
Al Filreis is Kelly Professor of English, Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House, Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Co-Director of PennSound, Publisher of “Jacket2” magazine—all at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been a member of the faculty and administrator since 1985. He has published many essays on modern and contemporary American poetry, on the literary history of the 1930s and 1950s, on the literary politics of the Cold War, on the end of the lecture, and on digital humanities pedagogy. Among his books are “Modernism from Right to Left,” “Wallace Stevens and the Actual World,” and “Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-60.“ He produces and hosts a monthly podcast/radio program, “PoemTalk,” co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. He has hosted three eminent writers for residencies each spring through the Kelly Writers House Fellows Program since 1999. He has won many teaching awards at Penn, was named Pennsylvania Professor of the Year in 2000 by the Carnegie Foundation, was named one of the Top Ten Tech Innovators in Higher Education for 2013 by the Chronicle of Higher Education, and received the first Faculty Innovation Prize from Coursera. He founded ModPo in 2012, one of the very first humanities MOOCs; he has been teaching a version of the ModPo course online since 1995.
More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.