ENLT 160: Modern and Contemporary US Poetry

English Literature
Course in English Literature
Course Description:

In this fast-paced introductory course, students read and discuss a wide range of modern and contemporary American poets, beginning with Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and ending with 21st century avant-garde poets like Tracie Morris, Caroline Bergvall, and Kenneth Goldsmith. Questions central to this course include "How does experimental poetry help us understand the transition between modernism and postmodernism?" and "What is the relationship between experimental poetry and experimental teaching?" The poems and poets we study challenge students to read critically and think differently about what a poem is, about what art can be and about what poetry can teach us about reading, writing and learning. Students do not need to have any prior knowledge of poetry or poetics. The course operates primarily as a discussion. Rather than attending lectures, students participate in web-based discussions of the poems, accessible in text, audio, and video formats. Requirements include active participation in the online discussion forums, in addition to five short papers, quizzes, creative exercises, and a comprehensive final examination.

Course Credits:
1 course unit (c.u.)*
Term Format:
Classic 11- or 12-Week Term
2020 Term Offered:
Spring (classic): Jan 15 – April 8, 2020
Fall (classic): Sep 1 – Nov 23, 2020
2021 Term Offered:
Spring 1 (accelerated): Jan 15 – Mar 10, 2021
Summer 1 (accelerated): May 24 – Jul 16, 2021
BAAS Foundational Requirement:
Qualitative Analysis - Creativity and Innovation
Gateway Category:
Qualitative Analysis

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.


  • Curriculum specialist and faculty member in Penn's division of Professional and Liberal Education

Anna Strong Safford is curriculum specialist and faculty member in Penn's division of Professional and Liberal Education. She received a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in literature from Boston College, and an MFA in poetry from Temple University. She teaches creative writing, critical writing, and modern and contemporary American poetry and poetics. Her poems and essays have appeared in SupplementCleaver, and Peregrine, among other… Read more

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