ModPo

ModPo 2014 starts September 6

a free, open, non-credit, 10-week online course

ModPo – a free, entirely open, non-credit, discussion-based 10-week course on modern & contemporary U.S. poetry – begins its 2014 session on September 6. Everyone is welcome to join us. Click here — https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry  — to enroll.

ModPo 2014 includes several new features in addition to the 10-week survey of mod American poets & poems. New is an entire set of resources for teachers. (We encourage teachers at all levels to join us.) And new, too, is “ModPoPLUS,” a supplemental syllabus that parallels the main ModPo syllabus – additional poems, links to audio and video, and video-recorded close readings of the poems. 

ModPo people gather together for meet-ups in many majors cities around the world. The ModPo team this year will be coming to New York, Washington DC, and Prague.

ModPo announces partnership with the New York Public Library

A still from the introductory video to ModPo.

We are all looking forward to the start of ModPo 2014 on September 6. The site will open at 9 AM Philadelphia time. At that moment (and of course any time after) you’ll be able to go here

https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

and click through to the actual ModPo site.

Meantime, I’m pleased to announce that I will be in Prague, Czech Republic, on Tuesday, October 14, to join a meet-up/gathering of any and all ModPo’ers in the area. We will gather at 7 PM Prague time. We are looking for a place to host the event. If you can help us, or know of a good place, please contact me.

Of course we encourage the formation of ModPo meet-ups – weekly, monthly, one-time, whatever. Once the course starts you can use the “Study Groups” discussion forum for organizing both virtual and face-to-face gatherings.

I’m writing today to announce that ModPo and the New York Public Library are collaborating to host a weekly meet-up every Thursday from 5:30-7 PM during ModPo’s 10-week session, starting on September 11.  I myself will convene and moderate the first of the weekly NYC gatherings – September 11 at 5:30 PM. The group will meet every week at the Hudson Park Library located at 66 Leroy Street, New York, NY 10014. If you are in NYC or nearby, please plan to join us for each week or any week.

ModPo 2014

Above: illustration for chapter 9.3 (week 10) of ModPo. This goes with the new supplemental syllabus called “ModPoPLUS.” ModPo begins again on 9/6/14 and it’s (as always) free, open to all, non-credit. Runs 10 weeks until mid-November. The course typically requires between 4 and 10 hours per week — much more if you join the discussions and live webcasts. Enroll here: https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

ModPo 2014

Above: illustration for chapter 9.3 (week 10) of ModPo. This goes with the new supplemental syllabus called “ModPoPLUS.” ModPo begins again on 9/6/14 and it’s (as always) free, open to all, non-credit. Runs 10 weeks until mid-November. The course typically requires between 4 and 10 hours per week — much more if you join the discussions and live webcasts. Enroll here: https://www.coursera.org/course/modernpoetry

Poetry as accountable talk: The cMOOC & conversation theory

An essay by Raymond Maxwell

At left: Raymond Maxwell; at right: a live ModPo webcast.

In a paper by Raymond Maxwell titled "Constructivism, Accountable Talk, Conversation Theory, and Information Literacy Instruction," there is a passage — in the conclusion — mentioning ModPo:

Last year I took a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, also called ModPo.  There were over 40,000 students in the course.  It was hosted by University of Pennsylvania, and live webcasts were broadcasted once a week, to which all participants were invited.  The professor used a team-teaching approach, and several videos each week featured close reads of poems with the professor at a table conversing with six teaching assistants.  The conversation was led by various team members at various times.  Each lecture was a conversation between the seven of them, piped out to over 40,000 students around the world.  The course was a grand success.  We learned the material, and a large percentage actually got certificates of completion.  In Washington, a dozen or so of us formed a weekly study group that met on Sundays at Politics and Prose Bookstore.  This year the course is being taught with the addition of some twenty community teaching assistants, embedded throughout the population of online students.  Perhaps such a model of conversation- and team-led instruction might be conceivable for information literacy instruction on a smaller level.

The homely space

ModPo as an open course

Jeremy Knox has presented and published a paper on massive open online courses, looking at three in particular. Here is a link to the paper. Here are a few sentences from one of the sections on ModPo:

A salient example of the use of video can be found in the ‘Modern and Contemporary American Poetry’ (known as ModPo) course from the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with Coursera. As part of the introductory material, this course provided a video tour of the Kelly Writers House, a campus building associated with the instructors of the ModPo MOOC and creative writing students at the University of Pennsylvania. As a production of space, this video offers a remarkable enactment of the domestication of the MOOC, involving, I suggest, the production of familiarity and the practice of mapping. Rather than the imposing campus edifices foregrounded by the MOOC platforms, this faculty-level promotion aims at establishing a space of intimacy and community by providing a tour of the building which hosts the ModPo course. Course convenor Al Filreis hosts the tour, providing commentary as he is filmed proceeding through various rooms within the building, in which he interviews each of the ModPo Teaching Assistants (TAs) in turn. Of primary emphasis in this video is the promotion of a community at the Kelly Writers House.

Open online course on modern poetry enables Pakistani student find his university and his writers' house

An article in the Christian Science Monitor features three talented students who found their college experience in unusual ways. One of those three is Taha Tariq — of Lahore, Pakistan — who discovered Penn and the Kelly Writers House through “ModPo,” the free and open online course on modern and contemporary American poetry offered through the House. Here is a portion of the article. The whole article can be found here.

When I meet Taha at the White Dog Cafe in the heart of the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia, it is apparent that he loves language – and conversation. He is a geyser of ideas, large and small, and offers snippets of insight and self-awareness.

Over smoked salmon artfully arranged on a rectangular plate, he proclaims his passion for author Jodi Picoult ("The judgments, decisions, moral dilemmas, and questions she presents leave me speechless," he says). Later, we visit Hill College House, his dorm, and meet his suitemates on the fourth floor. I learn that he has seen plays around the city, been a guest at a roommate's home on Long Island, and led late-night debates in the communal study space.

Taha is also intrigued by an ongoing conversation he has been having with a street vendor about religion. We sit on a stone bench amid fallen leaves as he describes the moral twists the man's narrative suggests and his plans to write about it, not for any class, but for himself.

Taha is interested in problems of perception and understanding. In Pakistan, he says, a relative and a friend's uncle were both injured by bomb blasts near mosques. "I feel I should be doing something about that," he says, during a Friday evening phone conversation. It's unclear what Taha will make of his future, but he is ambitious, imaginative, and eager to have an impact. It is odd, he says, to realize that just a year ago he had stumbled upon a MOOC and was watching Dr. Filreis online – the same professor he now calls "Al." Filreis is his adviser and teaches the seminar he recently took on representations of the Holocaust in film and literature.

Stein comix

by Kyriakos Mavridis

a page from Kyriakos Mavridis's comics rendering of a Stein prose-poem

Kyriakos Mavridis participated in ModPo (a free open non-credit online course on modern and contemporary American poetry), where among the Gertrude Stein readings we find a short prose poem called “Let Us Describe.” Its ending, an accident of descriptiveness gone thus awry, writes an automobile accident that seems to have occurred on wet rural French roads one stormy night. I'm very pleased to make Kyriakos’s comics rendering of “Let Us Describe” available here.

ModPo fall '13 live webcast schedule

Below is a list of the live webcast sessions for ModPo fall '13. At the time of the webcast, participants can click here and join the discussion. The origination is the Arts Cafe of the Kelly Writers House at 3805 Locust Walk, Philadephia USA; those who can join in person are welcome to do so. ModPo is a free, non-credit course and is open to all; enroll here. We begin on 9/7/13.

Close reading of two late poems by Stevens via webcast


The ModPo TAs and I led a 90-minute close reading of two late poems by Wallace Stevens, “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain” and “The Plain Sense of Things.” Several participants (who drove up from Washington DC) joined us in the Arts Cafe of the Kelly Writers House, while hundreds joined by webcast. Several people phoned in their comments and questions, while a number tweeted and still others emailed us. We were also thrilled to welcome into the Writers House — by chance — Professor Elisa New of Harvard, a brilliant reader of Stevens and creator of a MOOC on early American poetry (up to Whitman and Dickinson). Lisa’s MOOC, sponsored by EdX, is not available yet, but, we expect, will nicely complement ModPo. The video recording of the session is available above (just click on the image atop) and is also viewable here at YouTube.  Please note: the program begins at around 2 minutes into the video file here.

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