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American Poetry (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Mondays from 13th April 2020 (Code LI065-302) Mondays from
13th April 2020 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Reena Sastri BA PGDE PhD
Sorry, this course is cancelled

Course Summary

This course aims to explore the history of American poetry from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, up to the present day. Through close reading, discussion and recorded excerpts, we shall consider the changing face of poetry through the 20th Century as we consider the Beat poets, the Confessional poetry of poets such as Sylvia Plath, the New York School of poets and the connection between poetry and politics.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Introduction.

2. Founding fathers/mothers: Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson.

3. The vernacular: Robert Frost & Langston Hughes.

4. Modernism: Eliot, Pound, Williams, Stevens.

5. Observations: Marianne Moore & Elizabeth Bishop.

6. Cooked and raw: Robert Lowell & Allen Ginsberg.

7. The problem of "confession": Sylvia Plath.

8. Personal impersonalism: Louise Glück & Frank Bidart.

9. New York school: Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery.

10. Poetry & politics: Juan Felipe Herrera & Terrance Hayes.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture based with class discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand the textual strategies and working assumptions at the root of poets’ work

  • Assess the interactions between poetry and issues of voice, race, gender, history and art.

  • Form an awareness of the poetic traditions and diversity in America.


Core Readings

  • Dove, Rita, ed. The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2013)

  • McClatchy, J.D., ed., The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (2003)

  • Criticism

  • Bendixen, Alfred and Stephen Burt, eds, The Cambridge History of American Poetry (2014

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.