Monday, September 01, 2014

"Modern and Contemporary American Poetry" (ModPo) Begins This Week - Join Us!

The Brain, within its Groove
Runs evenly--and true--
But let a Splinter swerve--
'Twere easier for You--

To put a Current back--
When Floods have slit the Hills--
And scooped a Turnpike for Themselves--
And trodden out the Mills--

-Emily Dickinson

In the world of MOOCs, few courses have shown the creativity of purpose and the dedicated following as has the course "Modern and Contemporary American Poetry" by Dr. Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania and Director of its wonderful Kelly Writers House.

Few courses, in real life or online, have such a dedicated teacher as Al.

The course, part of Al's regular teaching at Penn in its English Department, has been presented in MOOC form at this time of year in 2012 and in 2013 at Coursera. The ten-week course is back, opening later this week to over 30,000 students, myself included (third timer). Week after week, this likely remains the largest single collection of dedicated students reading and discussing the same poets and poems at any one time on the planet. And it remains intimate, lively, and interactive.

Although I am in the outlier minority in terms of my interpretation of Emily's poem (above) - seeing it as a tragic though wonderful poetic expression of brain damage in the time of Broca, whilst the common interpretation is one of freeing ones' self from the mundane - as a neuropsychologist, discussing it was one of the true highlights of the course for me.

It is a wonderful experience. Neuroscientists need poetry! Join us!


OpenID quillfyre said...

Ah, Anthony! I'd say the poet's brain interpretation would be one of freeing itself from the normal path... Do poets have a swerve characteristic, perhaps?

Carol A. Stephen

5:44 PM  

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