ENGL 3370

Modern American Poetry

Fall 2014 | TR 100-225 | Peck Hall 312


Course Requirements

Course Rules and Regulations

Class Members




Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 316A |  Office Hours: M 900-1100, 100-300 | TuTh 900-1100, 300-400 | W 900-1100, 100-400
Phone/Voice-Mail: 898-5648 | Text Messages: 615 962-1161 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net/


Dr. David Lavery is Director of Graduate Studies and Professor in the English Department at Middle Tennessee State University (1993- ). The recipient of the University's 2006 Distinguished Research Award, he is the author of over one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews and the author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty-two books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The co-convener of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the work of Joss Whedon and The Sopranos; co-founder of the Whedon Studies Association and its journal Slayage and founding editor of Critical Studies in Television, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany), been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today, and from 2006-2008 taught film and television at Brunel University in London. He is currently working on a book entitled: Like Light: Wallace Stevens' Creative Work.



Top Row: Whitman, Dickinson, Robinson, S. Crane, Masters, Frost, Stevens, Williams, Pound, Eliot, Stein, H.D., Moore, Jeffers, cummings, H. Crane | 2nd Row: Hughes, Ransom, Millay, MacLeish, Parker, Warren, Auden, Bishop, Roethke, Rukeyser, Stafford, Jarrel, Berryman, Brooks | 3rd Row: Wright, O'Hara, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Snyder, Plath, Sexton, Oliver, Dylan, Smith, Collins


Class Members

John Thomas Arthur | Kelsey P Binkley | David Bonilla | Jason T. Carrozza | Hannah F. Chamberlin | Velma Coleridge-Taylor | Jessica L. Culp | Alexis M. Degazio | John E. Engelman | Kayla L. Giles | Anna R. Griffin | Andrew R. Hoffman | Connar F. Johnson | Catherine Mills
| Mary B. Powell

Course Requirements

Critical Essay 1: A critical essay of not less than 1250 words offering a reading of a single poem. Go here to see a sample essay by an MTSU student on Langston Hughes. 20% of grade. Critical Essay 2: A critical essay of not less than 2000 words on the work of a particular poet. (Your choice of subject may not be the author of the poem you wrote about in Essay 1.) 40% of grade. Final Exam, Part I: A take-home exam, consisting of a menu of topics, from which you will select two, responding with essay answers. These topics will all be "leading questions," intended to inspire your own comprehensive synthesis of course ideas, questions, problems. 20% of grade. Final Exam, Part II: An in-class cognitive-memory test, consisting of a variety of matching, identification, short answer questions (on authors, works, literary terms). 20% of grade

Course Policies and Procedures

Manuscript form: All written assignments must be word-processed and must be submitted in digital form, as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text attachment via the appropriate D2L drop box.

Essay Evaluation: I will evaluate your essays using a grading scale which can be found here.

Reading Assignments: You are responsible for having read the entirety of each assignment and keeping up with the required reading.

Viewing Assignments: You must watch all the Voices and Visions film (available free on the web) listed on the syllabus. Both the take-home and in-class final exams will assume your familiarity with these videos.

Participation & involvement: Please come prepared for each day’s class. I encourage you to become an active participant in class discussion and to ask constructive and meaningful questions at all times.

Attendance: Regular attendance is essential to the ongoing progress of the course. Two absences will be permitted. A third absence may result in the loss of a letter grade. A fourth absence may result in failure of the course.

Cell Phones/ComputersUse of cell phones during class is strictly forbidden. Use of lap tops/netbooks/tablets (for note-taking purposes exclusively) is allowed only if prior permission is secured from me.

Essay Evaluation: I will evaluate your essays using a grading scale which can be found here.

Inclement Weather Policy: Go here.

Plagiarism / Cheating: The unacknowledged use of the words/ideas/ insights/ original research of another is, of course, prohibited. Should I catch you plagiarizing, or cheating in any way, you will receive a grade of "0" on the assignment in question, the violation may be reported to University authorities, and you may fail the course.

Students with Disabilities: Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (KUC 120/2783/dssemail@mtsu.edu).

Lottery Scholarships: Do you have a lottery scholarship?  To retain Tennessee Education Lottery Scholarship eligibility, you must earn a cumulative TELS GPA of 2.75 after 24 and 48 attempted hours and a cumulative TELS GPA of 3.0 thereafter.  You may qualify with a 2.75 cumulative GPA after 72 attempted hours (and subsequent semesters), if you are enrolled full-time and maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.0.  A grade of C, D, F, FA, or I in this class may negatively impact TELS eligibility.  Dropping or stopping attendance in a class may also impact eligibility; if you withdraw from or stop attending this class and it results in an enrollment status of less than full time, you may lose eligibility for your lottery scholarship. Lottery recipients are eligible to receive the scholarship for a maximum of five years from the date of initial enrollment, or until reaching 120 TELS attempted hours or earning a bachelor degree.  For additional Lottery rules, please refer to your Lottery Statement of Understanding form (http://www.mtsu.edu/financial-aid/forms/LOTFOD.pdf) or contact your MT One Stop Enrollment Counselor (http://www.mtsu.edu/one-stop/counselor.php).

Grading Scale: 90-99%=A | 80-89%=B | 70-79%=C | 60-69%=D | 0-59%=F



All page numbers refer to the Lehman anthology. Please read all the selections for each poet.


Date | Subject/Readings/Course Requirements

Week 1

8/26/14 | Introduction to the Course | Thoughts on Poetry

8/28/14 | Walt Whitman [1819-1892] (84) | "Song of Myself" Online | Whitman Power Point | Voices and Visions Film


Week 2

9/2/14 | Emily Dickinson [1830-1886] (163) | Dickinson Power Point | Voices and Visions Film

9/4/14 | Edgar Lee Masters [1868-1950] (191); Edwin Arlington Robinson [1869-1935] (194); Stephen Crane [1871-1900] (203) | Robinson Power Point



9/9/14 | Robert Frost [1874-1963] (212); Carl Sandburg [1878-1967] (247) | Frost Power Point | Voices and Visions Film

9/11/14 | Frost (ctd.)


Week 4

9/16/14 | Wallace Stevens [1879-1955] (249) | Stevens Power Point | Stevens Graduate Course | Stevens Wiki | Voices and Visions Film

9/18/14 | Stevens (ctd.)


Week 5

9/23/14 | William Carlos Williams [1883-1963] (276) | Williams Power Point |  Voices and Visions Film

9/25/14 | Williams (ctd.)


Week 6

10/30/14 |  Ezra Pound [1885-1972] (295); & T. S. Eliot [1888-1965] (342) | Pound Power Point | Eliot Power Point | Pound Voices and Visions Film | Eliot Voices and Visions Film

11/2/14 | Gertrude Stein [1874-1946] (239); H. D. [1886-1961] (314); Marianne Moore [1887-1972] (322) | H. D. Power Point | Moore Power Point | Moore Voices and Visions Film


Week 7

10/7/14 | Robinson Jeffers [1887-1962] (318) | Jeffers Power Point

10/9/14 | e. e. cummings [1894-1962] (393) | Cummings Power Point


10/11-10/14/14 | Fall Break (no class)


Week 8

10/16/14 | Hart Crane [1899-1932] (427) | Crane Power Point | Voices and Visions Film

Week 9

10/21/14 | Crane (ctd.) | Critical Essay 1 Due

10/23/14 | Langston Hughes [1902-1967] (468) | Hughes Power Point | Voices and Visions Film


Week 10

10/28/14 | Hughes (ctd.)

10/30/14 | John Crowe Ransom [1888-1974] (374); Edna St. Vincent Millay [1892-1950] (388); Archibald MacLeish [1892-1950] (384); Dorothy Parker [1893-1967] (392); Robert Penn Warren [1905-1989] (496); W. H. Auden [1907-1973] (498) | Ransom, et al Power Point | New Criticism Power Point


Week 11

11/4/14 | Elizabeth Bishop [1911-1979] (545) | Bishop Power Point | Voices and Visions Film

11/6/14 Bishop (ctd.)


Week 12

11/11/14 | Theodore Roethke [1908-1963] (529); Muriel Rukeyser [1913-1980] (587); William Stafford [1914-1993] (618); Randall Jarrell [1914-1965] (609); John Berryman [1914-1972] (603); Gwendolyn Brooks [1917-2000] (623); James Wright [1927-1980] (840) | Roethke et al Power Point

11/13/14 | Frank O’Hara [1926-1966] (827) | O'Hara Power Point


Week 13

11/18/14 | Charles Bukowski [1920-1994] (651); Allen Ginsberg [1926-1997] (750); Gary Snyder [1930- ] (881) | Ginsberg/Snyder Power Point

11/20/14 | Sylvia Plath [1932-1963] (886); Anne Sexton [1928-1974] (853) | Plath Power Point | Plath Voices and Visions Film | Take Home Final Exam Available


Week 14

11/25/14 | Mary Oliver [1935- ] (915) | Oliver Power Point  | Critical Essay 2 Due

11/27/14 | Thanksgiving (no class)


Week 15

12/2/14 | Bob Dylan [1941] (962); Patti Smith [1946- ] (1026); Billy Collins [1941- ] (953) | Collins Power Point


Week 16

Final Exam Week (December 11-17) | Take-Home Final | In-Class Final Study Sheet | Zip File of All the Poet Power Points