Explore the poetry of the Civil War and its aftermath.
About this course
This module, the fifth installment of the multi-part Poetry in America series, explores the Poetry of the Civil War and its Aftermath. We will:
- Encounter such poets as Herman Melville, Julia Ward Howe, Walt Whitman, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Emma Lazarus, and W.E.B DuBois.
- Examine the language of patriotism, pride, justice, violence, loss, and memory inspired by the Nation’s greatest conflict.
- Travel to Boston’s Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Monument, and to Harvard’s Memorial Hall, two iconic sites of Civil War public memory.
Distinguished guests for this module include Harvard President Drew Faust, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner, Professor and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr., baritone Davone Tines, and Harvard Civil War scholar John Stauffer, among others.
Led by Harvard Professor Elisa New, Poetry in America surveys nearly 400 years of American poetry. Through video lectures, archival images and texts, expeditions to historic sites, interpretive seminars with large and small groups, interviews with poets and scholars, and conversations about poems with distinguished Americans, Poetry in America embarks on a journey through the literature of a nation. Distinguished guests, including President Bill Clinton, Elena Kagan, Henry Louis Gates, Eve Ensler, John McCain, Andrea Mitchell, Michael Pollan, Drew Faust, Tony Kushner, and Nas, among others, bring fresh perspectives to the study of American Poetry.
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What you will learn from Poetry in America: The Civil War and Its Aftermath
- Understand the interaction between conflict, language, and nation-building in the context of the American Civil War
- Identify poetic devices
- Develop strategies for approaching a poem
- Make observations, understand structure, situate a text in history, and enjoy language
Syllabus on Poetry in America: The Civil War and Its Aftermath
Week 0: Introduction to Poetry in America: The Civil War and Its Aftermath
- Introduction to Poetry in America: The Civil War and Its Aftermath.
- Introduction to the Study of Poetry.
- Poetry How-To: Rhythm and Meter.
- Poetry How-To: Speaker vs. Poet.
- Poetry How-To: Annotation.
- Archival Activity: The Civil War.
- A Note on the Discussion Forum
- Introduce Yourself.
- Pre-Course Survey.
Week 1: The Civil War
- Introduction to Week 1: The Civil War.
- A Conversation with Martha Minow: “The Soldier’s Faith”.
- Whitman’s Drum-Taps, 150 Years Later.
- Artistic Reappropriation: From “John Brown’s Body” to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
Week 2: Death and Aftermath
- Introduction to Week 2
- A Conversation with Drew Faust, Part I: Melville
- News from the Front: Melville’s “Donelson”
- A Conversation with Tony Kushner, Part I: “The Conflict of Convictions”
- A Conversation with Drew Faust, Part II: Whitman and Death on the Field
- A Conversation with Drew Faust, Part III: “The College Colonel”
- On the Slain Collegians
- A Conversation with Tony Kushner, Part II: Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
Week 3: Of the People, By the People, For the People
- Introduction to Week 3
- Reconstruction: Jim Crow Poetry and Poetics
- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., on Paul Laurence Dunbar
- The American Paradox: The Poetics of Acculturation and Diversification
- A Conversation with David Rubenstein: “The New Colossus”
- A Conversation with John McCain: “The Cremation of Sam McGee”
- Reconstruction and the Fin de Siècle: Melville, Crane, and Robinson
- Module 5 Conclusion
- Week 3 Open Response (1 Question)
- Assessment: Participation (1 Question)
- Assessment: Video Completion (1 Question)
- Assessment: Reading Completion (1 Question)
- Post-Module Survey
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- Harvard University
- Online Course
- 1-4 Weeks
- Free Course (Affordable Certificate)
- American History Culture History Poetry