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4. Modern and Contemporary Poetry

ELIT 636 - Modern and Contemporary Poetry

Course Information:

Course code: LIT636             Title: Modern and Contemporary Poetry                 Credit Hrs: 3

Pre-requisites:                          Course contact hours: 48                                     


Instructor Information:

Name: Shaheena Ayub Bhatti (PhD)                              Email:


Course Objectives: With a focus on twentieth and twenty first century poetry, this course has been designed to introduce students to the key movements of the twentieth century and their impact on the poetry being produced in English on both sides of the Atlantic. Students at this stage are expected to have a basic understanding and appreciation of poetry since it is the objective of this module to introduce them to contemporary issues and their representation in poetry. The emphasis will be on the critical issues raised by poets and to generate discussion on the cultural, social, global, economic, psychological and gender issues which affect humanity and help shape our world view.


Learning Outcomes: On the completion of the course the students will be able to understand cultural and political transitions and how they have impacted British and American poets. The terms British and American are loosely defined since nationality in the twentieth century is subject more to financial and political positions than to geographical and biological boundaries. Students are therefore expected to work across geographical boundaries and develop critical insight to analyze the issues of identity, race, gender and globalization, through the study of the polemic voices of feminism and post-colonialism. This is a reading intensive module and the students are expected to read more than is given in the handouts or reading lists. By the conclusion of the semester, students are expected to be able to:

a)      Distinguish between the different political and literary movements of the times and their impact on poetry

b)      Appreciate the different forms and styles of modern and contemporary poetry



Reading list: Selected poems of: A) British poets: 

1) Rudyard Kipling

2) Philip Larkin

3) Ted Hughes


B) American Poets: 

    4) Ezra Pound 

5) E E Cummings 6) Adrienne Rich 

7) Sylvia Plath


Weekly Schedule


Week 1: Introduction to the different movements and the impact of world events.

Weeks 2 and 3: Rudyard Kipling – life and works, analysis of poems in the backdrop of colonialism and postcolonialism 

Weeks 4 and 5: Philip Larkin – life and works, analysis of poems and the effects of postwar provincial England Weeks 6 and 7: Ted Hughes – life and works, analysis of poems, Hughes’ relationship with Plath, the impact of the rural landscape of Yorkshire and WWII on his poetry   Week 8: Presentation on an aspect of British poetry – marks 10 

Week 9: Mid-term exam

Weeks 10 and 11: Ezra Pound – life and works, analysis of poems in the light of modernist movements, particularly Imagism, impact of WW I on his personality, relationship with the government of Italy and public antiSemitism

Week 12 and 13: E. E. Cummings - life and works, analysis of poems in the light of deviation from established norms, innovation and experimentation in poetry including revamping grammatical and linguistic rules

Weeks 14 and 15: Adrienne Rich - life and works, analysis of poems in the light of the impact of Yeats and Auden on his poetry in addition to exploring issues of identity, sexuality and politics and focus on social justice, the antiwar movement and radical feminism

Weeks 16 and 17: Sylvia Plath – life and works, analysis of poems in the light of the intensely autobiographical exploration of her own mental anguish and her troubled marriage and relationship with Ted Hughes  Week 18: End Term examination and submission of written assignment on American poetry 



Assignment Fall 2016: 

Discuss in detail the influence of politics on American poetry of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Instructions for submission: 

1)      Total marks 20. Submission date: January 15th, 2017.  

2)      Please make an email id with your first name/given name. Assignments that do not have the student’s name will not be graded. 

3)      The title page must carry the name of the student, subject and semester. Sample provided. 

4)      Pages are to be numbered in Arabic numerals, with the title page being numbered as 1. 

5)      All assignments must be typed and submitted in soft copy after being converted to PDF.

6)      Assignment title must be in font size 16.

7)      Font: Times New Roman, size 14, single spaced. Marks will be deducted for fancy fonts. 

8)      Word count: 5000 – 7000. Negative marking for assignments going above or below the word count.

9)      Works cited page/s must be as per MLA format. 

10)  No colors are to be used in the written assignment.