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Take a Yale poetry course for free online

Lux et Veritas
Lux et Veritas

According to its introductory page, the “Open Yale Courses” project at was designed to provide “free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. The aim of the project is to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.” There is a wonderful range of offerings, almost certain to have something of interest to any autodidact -- from “Game Theory” and “Roman Architecture” to “The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food." Included in the range of courses offered is also an English 310 course, titled “Modern Poetry,” taught by Yale Professor Langdon Hammer.

The “Modern Poetry” course “covers the body of modern poetry, its characteristic techniques, concerns, and major practitioners. The authors discussed range from Yeats, Eliot, and Pound to Stevens, Moore, Bishop, and Frost with additional lectures on the poetry of World War One, Imagism, and the Harlem Renaissance. Diverse methods of literary criticism are employed, such as historical, biographical, and gender criticism. Broad thematic concerns are also presented, including the existence or non-existence of God, the representation of a multi-vocalic society, the use and depiction of history, and Modernism's complicated relationship with its literary predecessors. Literary Modernism is frequently treated alongside other forms of Modernism, especially painting, sculpture, photography, and architecture, in order to convey a wider sense of the movement and the variations within it.”

The online material available for download includes the course syllabus, 25 video clips of the course being taught in Spring 2007 (also available as audio or text-only downloads), PDF copies of all the handouts used in the class, and a copy of the Study Sheet for the final exam. You can download the entire course as a ZIP file here, or as individual files from here.

While, of course, there's no substitute for the experience of being on the Yale campus and participating in an actual live course, the students who took this exact class at Yale just three years ago were paying upwards of $50,000 a year to be there, and now anyone can have access to the same material free of charge, from the comfort of their own home. I hope readers around the world with an interest in English-language poetry will take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to experience a “Modern Poetry” course at Yale College.