More Free Online Poetry Courses: Walt Whitman, T.S. Eliot, Modern American Poetry

January 26, 2014 — Leave a comment


Walt Whitman’s long poem “Song of Myself” and T. S. Eliot’s poetry are both explored in two free online courses taught by university professors.

Walt Whitman

(From the course website:)

The Whitman course, Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself is co-taught by Ed Folsom and Christopher Merrill. Ed Folsom is the editor of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, co-director of the Walt Whitman Archive and editor of the Whitman Series at The University of Iowa Press. Folsom is the Roy J. Carver Professor of English at The University of Iowa. Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Brilliant Water, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself will take a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic, first published without a title in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass and later titled Song of Myself in the 1881 edition.

The class starts February 17th and runs 6 weeks. More information on the class is here and sign up is through

This same organization, has a course listed for June 2014 that looks interesting: How Writers Write. More information here.


T.S. Eliot

The T. S. Eliot course, Classics of American Literature: T. S. Eliot, is free and available through here, taught by Professor Victor Strandberg of Duke University. It is available to take at any time–no start date.

The central purpose of this course is to facilitate a better understanding of poems by T. S. Eliot.  We will focus mainly on classic works such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and The Hollow Men, but we may also take up some less prominent poems as well.  Toward this end we shall also consider some aspects of Eliot’s biography, his literary criticism, and the cultural backdrop of his times.  Our final objective will be to clarify not only Eliot’s poems but the revolution in twentieth century poetry largely attributed to Eliot and his cohort Ezra Pound. – Victor Strandberg


Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (Modpo)

Lastly, the Modern & Contemporary American Poetry (Modpo) free online course taught by University of Pennsylvania is starting in September 2014 but is already open for registration. I can highly recommend this course since I just completed the 2013 session. This course usually runs 10 weeks. Follow Modpo on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with specific class news and general poetry news. You will be in the company of thousands of students who want to learn more about poetry.

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, 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. – Al Filreis

More information on Modpo is available in this great summary article from Elliot Holt posted at the Poetry Foundation:

One Class, 36,000 Students

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