Research Paper: Modernist Poetics


The goal of this assignment is to formulate a Modernist poet’s poetics and demonstrate it through the analysis of several representative works.


In order for you to successfully write this essay I suggest the following steps:

  1. Select one of the following poets listed here, and in the course syllabus.
  2. Research the poet, life, poetry, affiliations with poets and poetic movements, essays or manifestos written by the poet, and articles written about the poet’s work.
  3. Formulate what you think his/her poetics is all about. This is your thesis statement.
  4. Choose 1 long poem or 2-3 short poems by that poet and analyze and interpret it/them in light of those poetics.
  5. Write your essay. Proving your thesis, supporting it with selected analysis of the poems.


The final paper should be about 1000 words long (4 pages) in MLA format (typed, double-spaced, with 1” margins, and a 12-point legible font). Any use of sources must be documented in impeccable MLA format—parenthetical citation (author’s last name & page number) and works cited page.

A printed copy of this essay is due in class on Monday, May 4.


Your essay will be evaluated in the following areas, with areas 1-3 carrying most of the weight of the grade:

  1. Assignment (fulfilling requirements, quality of thesis, and depth of analysis),
  2. Organization (clarity of thesis, thorough paragraphing, overall organization),
  3. Development (relevance of claims, adequacy of support, and textual evidence),
  4. Sentence Structure, Word Choice, and Grammar (weaknesses will be identified in these areas, but they will not affect grade significantly unless they get in the way of understanding the essay).

An essay that satisfies all the requirements of the assignment with a clear sense of organization and adequate development earns a “C” in this class. An essay that achieves the goals at an above average level of proficiency, with only minor problems in one or two areas earns a “B.” The “A” is reserved for nearly flawless, elegant essays that excel in all the criteria described above. Essays that do not fulfill the minimum requirements for the assignment earn a “D.” Essays that are not turned in or contain plagiarism earn an “F.”

Attempts to cheat by appropriating someone else’s essay and passing it as your own will result in an “F” in the course.

Week 12: American Modernism

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

  • Read this resource on Edgar Lee Masters
  • Read at least 10 poems from The Spoon River Anthology.
  • Write a 250-word forum post of an assigned poem in The Spoon River Anthology in which you offer an interpretation of what Masters is trying to achieve with the poem and analyze his strategies. Post this in the Homework forum before class today.


Bonus Opportunities

There are three opportunities (so far) to earn bonus credit for your Assignments:

  • Write a 250-word analysis of the musicality of a song’s lyrics (rhythm, meter, rhyme, etc.)
  • Write an Imagist poem and a 1-paragraph discussion of how it embodies the principles set forth in Imagism.
  • Watch Midnight in Paris and write a 1 paragraph discussion of how it represents the Modernist artistic and literary scene in Paris in the 1920s.
  • Attend my talk “El Inglés y las artes de la palabra” (March 6, 10:30 am in Celis 116) and write a brief (1-2 paragraph) discussion on how the ideas presented connect with Modern Poetry.

Post your bonus entries in the Bonus forum.

Week 7: Imagism

Monday, February 23

Wednesday, February 15

Friday, February 27

  • Read Des Imagistes (pgs. 40-end)
  • Assignment (due Monday, March 2):
    • Choose one poem from Des Imagistes, one we haven’t discussed in class.
    • Write a 250-word analysis of the poem and how it fulfills (or doesn’t) Ezra Pound’s concept of Imagism.
    • Post this in the Discussion Forum before class.