University of Illinois Online Launches First Humanities MOOC with Modern American Poetry Course

by Karen Bollinger | 04/15/2016

Champaign, Ill. (April 15, 2016) – The English Department in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois is launching an online humanities course in Modern American Poetry.  The course begins April 18 and is the University’s first lecture-based, massive open online course (MOOC) in American poetry.

The course is ideal for faculty, students, high school teachers and individuals around the world who have an interest in modern American poetry. Almost 600 participants from 40 different countries are already enrolled, only two days after the course preview was active on Coursera.

Using unique stylized presentations supplemented by photos, images, and readings, the course will take an in-depth look at individual poets, from the famous to nearly unknown, as well as poetic movements and subjects from the 1900s to the 1950s.

“American poetry is recognized collectively throughout the world as one of the most remarkable and influential bodies of literary work in human history, and its remarkable range of literary styles, subject matter and formal variety continues to surprise and inspire readers and writers everywhere,” said Cary Nelson, Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at the University of Illinois, who has designed and will lead the course.

Nelson said no other comprehensive and current series of video lectures about the literary movements that shaped and energized this body of work has been produced to date.

“Because the poetry itself—as well as the interpretation of it—is so diverse, we want the course to reflect and embody that diversity,” he said. “Instead of delivering a standard single lecturer course, we invited a series of faculty members to record lectures in their areas of greatest interest and expertise.”

Throughout the course, 12 presenters from 10 recognized institutions across the country, including Stanford University, Pennsylvania State University and University of Southern California, will share their knowledge and individual perspectives on modern American poetry. Those enrolled in the course will have the opportunity to participate in online discussion groups and collaborate on essays and videos.

A second course, launching in 2017, will focus on contemporary American poetry from the 1950s through today.  Open for enrollment now, the deadline to enroll for the April start is April 16. The 4-week course will be offered again on May 9 and each month thereafter on a rolling basis. Learn more about the program or explore other MOOCs offered by Illinois at

About Illinois Online

At the University of Illinois, we continue to lead and explore innovations in higher education that build on our academic reputation and proven strengths in online teaching and learning. Longevity and experience have made Illinois a pioneer and leader in innovative distance and online education, and today, we continue to rethink how technology is integrated into education, regardless of the modality. Our world-renowned faculty and award-winning content developers have worked collaboratively to develop more than 75 online degree and certificate options for learners across the globe.

About Illinois

Founded in 1867, “Illinois,” the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus is among the nation’s top comprehensive public research universities. Illinois remains true to the land-grant mission – to enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation, and around the world through leadership in learning, discovery, engagement, and economic development.

About Coursera

Coursera is an online education company that offers courses and learning experiences from the world’s top universities and education institutions. Coursera has more than 18 million registered learners worldwide. Anyone, anywhere can access over 1,800 courses and Specializations in dozens of topics including business, technology, social sciences, health, and art. Coursera empowers learners around the world to achieve their career, educational, and personal enrichment goals throughout their lives. For more information about Illinois’ partnership with Coursera, visit


For media inquiries about the Modern American Poetry MOOC, contact Dr. Cary Nelson at or 217-367-0649. For general Illinois Online media inquiries, please contact Karen Bollinger at