Take home test (20%)

ENGL 349–Modern Poetry in English

This take-home test requires a short written response (about 3 pages), which is due in my departmental mailbox by 4:00 on Friday April 10 (earlier submissions are welcome). No late submissions. For formatting and other related questions, see the Course Assignments page or check out the online writing resources on the Policies and Resources page. As always, you have to cite and reference any work you consult or quote.

Answer one of the following six questions, which are on general aspects or themes of modern poetry. Your answer should be a wide-ranging discussion, drawing on at least three authors in order to illustrate different ways in which the theme or aspect is manifested. I’m looking for a well-structured synthesis, an ability to make general claims without falling into generalization (including using specific examples to illustrate general trends). Click here for a sample answer to a question of the same nature.

Choose one of the following six questions as the topic of your take-home essay.

  1. Discuss how modern poets deal with literary tradition(s).
  1. Does poetic form have a gender, a race, a nationality, a sexuality? Discuss how modern poets deal with the relation between form and one aspect of identity.
  2. Romantic and Victorian lyric poetry often features a singular “I.” What happens to the lyric “I” in modern poetry?
  1. How does modern poetry address or respond to figures of authority? (These might include religious, political, social leaders and institutions, as well as major writers of the past)?
  2. “It’s not on any map – real places never are,” says Ishmael, the narrator of Melville’s Moby-Dick. Discuss the role of place or space in modern poetry.
  1. “Poetry is a means of redemption,” writes Wallace Stevens in Adagia. Discuss this claim based on what modern poets say in their poems.


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