By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
- Extract meaning from poetic language
- Describe the historical context for the poems and their authors
- Explain how specific poems speak to social issues
- Discuss how emotion is communicated in verse
Your online learning will include the following methods:
- Reading academic and non-academic articles, and poetry
- Participation in written discussions with other students
- Participation in discussions in videoconference seminars
For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.
Week 1: Evolution and crisis of faith
Alfred Tennyson is justly remembered as a great poet. One of his most personal poems, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”, captures the struggle that a generation of Victorians faced when attempting to reconcile scientific developments with their sense of faith. The poem is also an extended diary of the process of personal grief and an example of Tennyson’s outstanding craftsmanship.
Week 2: Poetry against dictatorship
Pablo Neruda is best known for his love poems in North America, but he wrote passionately about the dictatorship and exploitation in his native Chile. His epic, “Canto General” is an outstanding example of this, and gives voice to struggles that extend far beyond Chile.
Week 3: Strange fruit and jazz as resistance
Abel Meeropol’s poem, “Strange Fruit” was made famous when Billie Holiday sang it, in a searing indictment of sickening violence against African Americans. Meeropol was Jewish, and his support for equality was part of a larger connection between Jews, jazz and Black civil rights in America.
Week 4: Urbanization and ominous light
The number of people who live in cities is larger than it has ever been, and the impact of this way of living on human life and the planet is enormous. Earle Birney’s beautiful poem, “Vancouver Lights” maps this change and the future it may bring.
Books, materials and resources
You will access course resources using SFU’s online course management system, Canvas.