Module Catalogue 2023/24

SEL3397 : American Poetry Now

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Mark Byers
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module explores American poetry from 2000 to the present. Placing an emphasis on innovative and/or experimental writing, the module examines the ways recent American poetry has confronted the public concerns and social crises of the Unites States in the period, notably those of identity, technology, racism, inequality, and the environment.

Over the course of the module, we will consider a range of forms and techniques associated with American poetry in the twenty-first century: its emphasis on the materiality/visuality of the text; its use of ‘found’ texts and procedural techniques; the emergence of documentary writing and ecopoetics, and its concern with the politics of literary form. We will also ask how American poetry responded to the major social and political events and transitions of the period, including the arrival of social media, the Financial Crisis and Occupy movement, and ongoing ecological crisis.

The module aims to give students a firm grounding in the formal practices and theoretical issues associated with recent American poetry. In particular, the module will give students an opportunity to explore the much-debated relationship between literary form and social experience.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module may include texts by Anne Boyer, Don Mee Choi, Claudia Rankine, Joshua Clover, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, Rae Armantrout, and Hoa Nguyen, among others.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will have:

Developed an understanding of innovative American poetry in the period 2000 to present.

Acquired the skills to perform close readings of formally innovative contemporary American poems.

Developed an understanding of the ways innovative American poetry evolved in the period.

Gained awareness of pertinent social and political contexts.

Become acquainted with critical/theoretical debates regarding recent American poetry and poetics.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to:

Close-read contemporary American poetry and identify key experimental strategies.

Assess contemporary American poetry within pertinent social and political contexts.

Engage with critical and theoretical debates about recent innovative poetry in the United States.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Eleven lectures introduce students to critical and theoretical debates surrounding works and authors, providing readings of key poems and pertinent context. Seminars develop from the lectures, allowing students to engage with key texts in close reading exercises and to engage broader issues in a participatory group environment. A series of four workshops focusses on theoretical issues raised by seminars and lectures.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M401500-word close reading
Essay1A602500-word critical essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-module assignment allows students to develop an understanding of recent American poetry in the period through close reading of a single poem.

The 2500-word essay encourages students to extend their close reading skills into a broader argument, placing individual poems within literary historical and/or social/political context.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.