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The Making of Modern Poems: A Workshop - ENG00095M

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. J T Welsch
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module will offer a practical perspective on various modes of modern poem-making. Beginning with, but moving quickly beyond the formal foundations of lyrical prosody and rhyme, we’ll focus on the proliferation of ‘experimental’ approaches in British and American poetry over the past one hundred years, which have in common a broadly materialist approach to language as a medium – hence ‘making’ as much as ‘writing’. Following developments in concrete and visual methods, constraint-based procedures, field composition, homophonic and homolinguistic translation, and other innovative practices across the twentieth century, we’ll work towards the more recent emergence of conceptualism and other appropriative or post-internet techniques, considering the legacy of any number of avant-garde impulses underlying the contemporary ‘post-lyric’.

Teaching sessions will adopt the structure of what the American poet Charles Bernstein calls a ‘reading workshop,’ in which discussions centre around students’ creative responses to the assigned reading. No prior poetry writing experience is necessary, as the aim is equally to explore new critical perspectives through your own experiments.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module will:

  • Explore a range of established approaches for producing innovative or experimental poetry;
  • Relate these approaches to their historical, theoretical, and aesthetic contexts;
  • Support your production of a body of original writing, which demonstrates a critical engagement with readings.

Module learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, you will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with a range of established approaches for producing innovative or experimental poetry.
  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic contexts within which these approaches have developed.
  3. Produce a portfolio of original writing which demonstrates a critical engagment with modern (twentieth- and twenty-first century) poetry-making.


Task Length % of module mark
Response Portfolio - 4500 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The summative assessment for this module is 4500 words (or an agreed equivalent), developed out of the formative weekly responses. In keeping with the module’s hybrid critical-creative nature, students will determine the balance of poetry and criticism in their final submission, and are welcome to divide it evenly or unevenly between the two. A 4500-word essay will be perfectly acceptable, as will a fluid hybrid submission moving between new writing and comment, or a selection of shorter pieces. An equivalent word-count for visual poetry or other non-standard formatting can be agreed with the tutor in advance. All submissions should include a bibliography, though standard referencing may not always be appropriate.


Task Length % of module mark
Response Portfolio - 4500 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your module tutor, the MA Convenor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours

Indicative reading

Indicative reading:

  • Paul Hoover (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry, 2nd Edition (2013).
  • Emmett Williams (ed.), An Anthology of Concrete Poetry (Primary Information, 2014).
  • Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith (eds.), Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Poetry (Northwestern UP, 2011).
  • Tom Chivers (ed.), Adventures in Form: A Compendium of Poetic Forms, Rules & Contraints (Penned in the Margins, 2012).
  • Robert Sheppard, The Meaning of Form in Contemporary Innovative Poetry (Palgrave, 2016).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.