Online Poetry in America

ENG 131 - Poetry in America: 1850-1945

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This course draws from the acclaimed Poetry in America PBS series. Beginning with the poetry of the American Civil War and the series of major events and social movements that followed it, we read such poets as Herman Melville, Julia Ward Howe, Walt Whitman, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, and Emma Lazarus, and examine the language of patriotism, pride, violence, loss, and memory inspired by the nation’s greatest conflict.

As we enter the twentieth century, we encounter modernism, a movement that spanned the decades from the 1910s to the mid-1940s, and whose poetry marked a break from past traditions and past forms. We read such poets as Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes, William Carlos Williams, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Claude McKay, Dorothy Parker, and Wallace Stevens. We study how these poets employed the language of rejection and revolution, of making and remaking, of artistic appropriation and cultural emancipation.

Course prerequisites and requirements

To be successful in this course, we recommend English language fluency and computer literacy. We also encourage you to make sure your laptop or desktop computer meets the technical requirements.

Quick facts

  • Credits: 3
  • Length: 16 weeks
  • Cost: $25 + $400

What you’ll learn

  • Learn and practice the course’s four approaches to reading a poem, which can be applied to reading literary texts more broadly
  • Build course-wide community through interactive written discussion of course readings and themes and live seminars
  • Learn about major historical and cultural events in American history—from the Civil War to Reconstruction, Manifest Destiny, the Harlem Renaissance, and innovations across the arts—that shaped American literature
  • Experience the power of place through video excursions to the actual sites where our poets lived and wrote
  • Practice critical and creative analysis and writing, and reflect on your goals and progress as a reader and writer

What to expect in class

Videos, readings, graded assignments, quizzes, creative project, and final exam

Exams and grading


Annotation Assignments


Reading Response Assignments


Content Quizzes


Creative Project


Final Exam


This course appears on your transcript identically to how it appears on the transcript of an enrolled ASU student who has taken the course on one of ASU’s campuses. Course attendance dates will be listed on your transcript. An on-demand course will appear on your transcript in the session you complete the course.

This course satisfies 3 credit hours toward the HUAD: Humanities, Arts and Design General Studies requirement for Arizona State University. It is strongly encouraged that you consult with your institution of choice to determine how these credits will be applied to their degree requirements prior to transferring your credit.

Faculty and course staff





Center for Public Humanities

Arizona State University

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Faculty Associate,

Center for Public Humanities

Arizona State University

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Why take ASU Universal Learner Courses

  1. Credit you receive is from a regionally accredited university
  2. Your credit is highly transferable
  3. You only pay the $400 course cost if you pass

Related programs

Online BA in English