ENGLISH 440 - Modern Poetry
Winter 2022, Section 001 - Modernist Poetries in the U.S.
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is   Hybrid (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 1/5/22 - 4/19/22 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


In 1921, the American poet T.S. Eliot wrote, “Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult. Our civilization comprehends great variety and complexity, and this variety and complexity, playing upon a refined sensibility, must produce various and complex results.” Difficulty – what’s difficult to read and understand -- has, since Eliot wrote these words, become almost synonymous with the idea of modern poetry in the U.S. and Europe. But whose work of the period counted as difficult (and why?) and how has that shaped the way canons of Modern poetry have been written? Students in this course will explore the power and the limits of Eliot’s influential assessment, learning to read a range of poetry from the early to mid-twentieth century to understand but also question what Eliot and others meant by “difficulty” and why they valued it, which turns out to be not just a matter of aesthetics, but evidence that poetry was a fertile cultural ground on which played out some of the period’s major struggles over art in its relationship to social life, gender, class, and race. Students learn to think critically and historically about the categories “Modernism” and “modernity” by which writers and literary historians have sought to make sense of the period’s poetry, and the social and political upheavals that saw it come about. We will consider how issues of race, class, gender, nation, and citizenship shape and are shaped by the writing we read, and wrestle with the claims about form, language, and the world that these writers engaged.

There will be an anthology to buy and texts on Canvas to download and print. Writers we read may include Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jean Toomer, Gertrude Stein, Melvin Tolson, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, among others.

Course Requirements:

Students will probably write short, low-stakes reflection papers (or discussion-posts) and two longer (7-10 page) essays, and give an in-class presentation.


ENGLISH 440 - Modern Poetry
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
1/5/22 - 4/19/22

Textbooks/Other Materials

The partner U-M / Barnes & Noble Education textbook website is the official way for U-M students to view their upcoming textbook or course material needs, whether they choose to buy from Barnes & Noble Education or not. Students also can view a customized list of their specific textbook needs by clicking a "View/Buy Textbooks" link in their course schedule in Wolverine Access.

Click the button below to view and buy textbooks for ENGLISH 440.001

View/Buy Textbooks


Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

Click the button below to view historical syllabi for ENGLISH 440 (UM login required)

View Historical Syllabi

CourseProfile (Atlas)

The Atlas system, developed by the Center for Academic Innovation, provides additional information about: course enrollments; academic terms and instructors; student academic profiles (school/college, majors), and previous, concurrent, and subsequent course enrollments.

CourseProfile (Atlas)