This course, the first installment of the multi-part Poetry in America series, covers American poetry in cultural context through the year 1700. The course begins with Puritan poets–some orthodox, some rebel spirits–who wrote and lived in early New England. Focusing on Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, and Michael Wigglesworth, among others, we explore the interplay between mortal and immortal, Europe and wilderness, solitude and sociality in English North America.
Led by Harvard Professor Elisa New, Poetry in America surveys nearly 400 years of American poetry. Through video lectures, archival images and texts, expeditions to historic sites, interpretive seminars with large and small groups, interviews with poets and scholars, and conversations about poems with distinguished Americans, Poetry in America embarks on a journey through the literature of a nation. Distinguished guests, including President Bill Clinton, Elena Kagan, Henry Louis Gates, Eve Ensler, John McCain, Andrea Mitchell, Michael Pollan, Drew Faust, Tony Kushner, and Nas, among others, bring fresh perspectives to the study of American Poetry.
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What you’ll learn
The historical and religious context in which poets of early New England lived and wrote
How to identify poetic devices
Development of strategies for approaching and annotating a poem
How to make observations, understand structure, situate a text in history, and learn to enjoy language