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ENGL319 Modern and Contemporary Poetry

A study of a range of twentieth and twenty-first-century poetry.

In ENGL 319, you will learn how modern and contemporary poetry has engaged and responded to a century of dramatic change in society, technology, politics, art, culture and language. You will examine how these changes are reflected in last century's most radical innovations in verbal art and in poetry that continues to push the boundaries of language today. You will also have the opportunity to link theory and practice by producing your own creative work that responds to a century of poetic innovation and to the place of language and art in our rapidly changing world.

Paper title Modern and Contemporary Poetry
Paper code ENGL319
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ENGL points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
Usually a 200-level English course is required to enrol in a 300-level English paper. Alternative arrangements may be possible in some cases. If in doubt, please contact the course co-ordinator.

Teaching staff

To be confirmed when paper is next offered.

Paper Structure

Each week begins by introducing a poet - such as T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Frank O'Hara or Langston Hughes - whose work both responds to the rapid changes of the modern world and shapes the subsequent course of modern and contemporary poetry.

The second class compares the work of this influential poet with that of a twenty-first-century writer whose work in some way engages the earlier poet's example, while responding to our contemporary social, political and technological world.

Each week you will have the opportunity to write critical and/or creative responses to poetic works and to discuss these responses in class.

You will also have opportunities to meet local and visiting poets, to attend live readings and to explore the material culture of modern and contemporary poetry - from rare books and manuscripts to online poetic culture.


  • In-class responses to workshop sessions: 10%
  • Prepared group reading response and blog post: 10%
  • Research project (this may be presented as an essay, but other forms of research, including creative, collaborative, and multimedia work, are also possible): 40%
  • Exam: 40%

Please note that the outline above is indicative only and may be subject to change.

Teaching Arrangements

One 1-hour and one 2-hour class per week, with a mixture of lecturing, discussion-based teaching, and workshop sessions in which students are encouraged to engage actively and creatively with poetic and critical texts.

Modern and Contemporary Poetry Anthology (available from the Print Shop and online), supplemented by readings available for download.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper should be able to:

  • Analyse a poem with confidence
  • Present a coherent argument about a poem based on their analysis
  • Independently research a topic in modern and contemporary poetry
  • Compare and critically evaluate major moments and movements in twentieth-century English-language poetry
  • Experiment individually and collaboratively with creative methods for analysing and responding to modern and contemporary poetry
  • Theorise about the relationship between poetry and the rapid social, political, economic and technological developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries
  • Reflect on the relationship between developments in poetry and the other arts
  • Critically evaluate major aesthetic, philosophical and political issues that have shaped and continue to shape the production and reception of modern and contemporary poetry

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system