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SEL3397 : American Poetry Now (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Mark Byers
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module explores American poetry from 1980 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 after 1980: 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 computing and the Internet, 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, from the ‘Language’ writing of the 1980s to the proliferation of innovative poetics in the twenty-first century. 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 John Ashbery, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Harryette Mullen, Alice Notley, Eileen Myles, CAConrad, and Hoa Nguyen.

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 teaching122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops41:004:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/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.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M401500-word close reading
Essay2A602500-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.

Reading Lists