Coursera’s new course on Modern Poetry (a.k.a. ModPo) is one of the most delightful courses I’ve listened to in a long time. Most of the credit is due to the professor, Al Filreis
of the University of Pennsylvania, who is the kind of dynamic, charismatic teacher we all wish we could have had in school.
Even if you’re not “into” poetry, I encourage you to give ModPo a listen. The format is much more engaging than the usual talking head you get in a lot of online course video. Instead, Filreis is seated at a table with 7 students, and the professor leads a lively discussion about a particular poem. You’ll learn a lot about how reading poetry is different from reading prose, and get tips on how to do the kind of close reading which will enrich any encounter with good literature.
As a special bonus, the course also features a number of live webcast sessions (the next one is scheduled for October 3, 10 AM Eastern time). It’s your opportunity to pose questions on the class’s twitter feed, or attempt to call in with a question or comment. (Only a few lucky students will actually get through to the telephone line, since there are approximately 30,000 students enrolled in the class.)
Last weekend, National Public Radio ran a story on the Free Online Course movement, and featured the ModPo class. Extra bonus if you join ModPo: US Senator Richard Durbin will be one of your classmates.