The HarvardX Poetry in America classes were an amazing survey of U.S. poetry history. The series was so generous is scope: a variety of videos, talks and locations, ways to read difficult poems, links to the poems and they even tried to build a tool that allowed you to do explication exercises online. Unfortunately this tool never worked with an iPad. And who wants to watch poetry videos sitting upright? Not me.
The Poetry of Early New England class was about the Puritan poets mostly. I worried, from my college lit experiences, that this would be a very dry experience. But I really enjoyed Elisa New's perspectives on this group, their biases and challenges.
Nature and Nation, 1700-1850 covers poets before and after the Revolutionary War, nation building and identity forming, including Emerson and other transcendentalists, the fireside poets and Edgar Allan Poe.
The Walt Whitman class was the first one I took on the EdX platform. While I was commuting to ICANN in Los Angeles back in 1999 I had already taken the CD class from Modern Scholar on Whitman and this really helped me break into his poems for the first time. But the HarvardX class approached the subject from different angles.
I followed that with the Emily Dickinson class. The only other ED instruction I've ever had was from the ModPo MOOC that got me started on this whole crazy, online poetry journey. I thought Elisa New's instruction was a bit more accessible than Al Filreis. It seems like a personality issue. Filreis' classes are very exciting but I learned more from the straight-shooting Professor New.
The Civil War and Its Aftermath. I was never able to take this class. It's been consistently closed.
Most of the classes were around 4 or 5 weeks, but the Modernism class was 7 weeks! Brutal! And this is the only class that competes directly with Al Filreis' ModPo MOOC but I would actually recommend taking them both. Filreis and New both choose different material to study and have different tactics for helping you get through some difficult stuff. Also, Harvard's class stops short of anything contemporary.
Click on some of those links and you'll see some of these classes are archived but closed. I could never figure out why some courses were closed even though they were archived already and some were open. Access seems hit and miss with the HarvardX classes.
After I finished the HarvardX stuff, I took the 6 week Davidson College class on Electronic Literature. And this class blew my freaking mind. I had to slow down the experience because my mind was smoking too much. I got headaches trying to wrap my head around this stuff. And before taking this class I had never considered having done any E-Lit myself; but then I remembered some of the pieces we did for Ape Culture, specifically our Choose Your Own Celebrity Adventures (1998-2002) and the Michael Jackson Fan Hatemail Generator we created in 2002.
The E-Lit class asks you to explore the idea of what a book or poem really is and how writers have always been design reading experiences. And what exactly happens when you change your reading platform. I collected some amazing links from Professor Mark Sample and this class. But it's no substitute for actually taking it, which I encourage you to do because it's currently open enrollment.
E-Lit Databases and Anthologies
I'm still working my way through some of these. Many require pesky plugins.
- Dreaming Methods (Andy Campbell and collaborators)
- Secret Technology (Jason Nelson)
- Gas station (Kate Pullinger)
- Stir Fry Texts (Jim Andrews)
- Webyarns (Alan Bigelow)
- J.R. Carpenter
- Wordy crissxross (Christine Wilks)
- Bust Down the Door!
- (0UT 0F THE INTERNET AND) INT0 THE NIGHT
- Network Effect (a collaboration with Greg Hochmuth, 2015) – just very kewl
- Zach Whalen's implementation of "House of Dust"
- Nick Montfort's implementation of "House of Dust"
- Stephanie Strickland's Sea and Spar Between
- This is Just to Say (Mark Sample)
- Enigma n (Jim Andrews)
- Seattle Drift (Jim Andrews)
- Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries Dakota, which the artists once described as "based on a close reading of Ezra Pound's Cantos I and first part of II."
- The Baron, by Victor Gijsbers (2006) - we did a walk-through of this story in class and it was alarming in its effectiveness to take you somewhere you'd never thought you'd go. It's helpful to take the walk-throughs in the class to learn how to interact with these stories.
We also learned about Lit Bots
Around this time I found a good related article from my marketing life, "User Memory Design: How To Design For Experiences That Last" and I keep wondering, should reading experiences be designed? Should memory be manipulated?
Are Books Dead?
Don't believe it. One of the most awesome aspects of the E-Lit course were the first few lectures on the technology of physical books. Some more book talk: