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HES Poetry in America
#1
Hello All...

I am extremely interested in learning more about Harvard's Poetry in America series. I've explored the posts here on the Forum and looked at both the Harvard and edX websites for syllabus info, but would greatly appreciate learning more about the course requirements from those who have completed one or more of the classes.

Can you audit a class then retake the same class for credit? Are thesis/essay examples provided within the class? I was thinking of taking a look at HarvardX's archived "Poetry in America - Whitman" course over at edX just to get a feel for what a class is like. I'm assuming this would be helpful – especially if I can see just one sample essay! 

Literature has ALWAYS been my first love. However, I have not felt confident enough with my formal essay writing skills to pursue Lit at the Graduate level. I’ve been dabbling around taking some Am Lit/Eng Lit/Shakespeare courses from Study.com and Shmoop, but my ultimate plan is to take a writing refresher class (I like the Academic English Writing course from Coursera), then clench my chattering teeth and attempt whatever Poetry in America class is next available.

Many thanks! Smile
"I dwell in Possibility."  Emily Dickinson
2011-12  CLEP
 Int Psych - 75 / H G & D - 69 / Ed Psych - 72 / Am Lit - 80  / A & I Lit - 75 / Eng Lit - 73 2012-13  SL  Eng Comp I - 95.3% P /
Eng Comp II - 97.5% P 2014  EC/UEXCEL  Ab Psych - A / Soc Psych - A / Psych A & A - A  / Gerontology - A / Info Lit - P 2015 BYU Sport Psych - A / DSST Sub Abuse - 470 / Int World Rel - 481 / H T Y H - 465 / Tor College HIS 301 - 81% P 2016 EC LA498 Capstone - A
1991 AA Liberal Arts USNY Regents College
2016 BSLA Magna Cum Laude Excelsior College  - A 5 year journey COMPLETED!

2017-2019 Study.com Certs. - Am Lit/Brit Lit/Shakespeare/Poetry Review Shmoop - Shakespeare's Plays/Shakespeare in Context/Women's Lit
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#2
Based on your post, you have enough writing ability to go straight to the Poetry in America courses. I have taken all five of the classes and I have taught high school English for twenty years.

Roughly 40% of the grade is via forum posts. These take some time, but it is all effort. You just need to have read enough of the poems to write five thoughtful posts per week. My feeling is that this is an automatic/computer-generated grade based on points. The TA's are there and are very involved in the board, but I think that the only way to lose points here is if you don't read anything and start talking about basketball. In fact, my guess is that your interest in the subject and obvious passion will make your posts among the best in the class.

10% of the grade has been based on simply completing the essay thesis statement and opening paragraph. Again, this is an effort grade.

In terms of writing, I think that there is a funny paradox in terms of grad. classes. Places like Walden and less-reputable online colleges focus obsessively on APA format and other technical issues because they want to support their legitimacy. Conversely, classes like this at Harvard don't seem to stress the format because Harvard doesn't need to prove anything. They just want students to read all of the poems, think deeply and write a thoughtful and passionate essay.

This does not mean that the essay will be easy. Grading is on the difficult side, but that difficulty level is more about the ideas than format.

Also, these classes alternate between weekly graded quizzes and an overall exam. Again, these are not easy, but they are open book and all it takes it time to get most of the answers correct with some research back into the poems.

One danger with waiting is that the $250 price goes up to normal Harvard Extension school prices which are $1700 per course and above. Given that possibility, I would highly recommend just going straight to the classes.

I am pretty sure that most of the course videos are on the Poetry in America Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw3HaNx..._pqZn7xyAw
University of Michigan, 1997, BA Ed.; Teaching Cert.: English/Social Sciences
Marygrove College, 2003, MAT
TESU, 2018, BSBA: Accounting/CIS; ASNSM: Math/Comp. Sci.; Certs: Finance, Org. Lead., Ops. Man., Marketing
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 2018, Grad. Cert.: Economics Ed.; 18 Grad. Credits - Economics
Harvard University Extension, 2019, Complete: Poetry in America Series; 20 Grad. Credits - English
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#3
I made at least two posts about my impressions, so you may want to see my history.
Working on second TESU degree. Graduate in June or Sept?
First Masters complete. Choosing next Masters / grad cert.
TESU BSBA (with ASNSM) in March 2018.
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#4
How much time do the Harvard Poetry courses take? How many hours a week did you spend?
Earned: AA, AAS, AGS
145+ credits
Bachelors Degree May 2020
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#5
I took all 5 classes and I spent anywhere from 3-6 hours per week on the  coursework for each class and I received 2 A grades and 3 A-.  You have to make your way through all of the online course material, which can be bulky, but I found it interesting.  The 2nd weekly requirement is to post on the weekly discussion board and then respond to 3 of your classmates posts.  Some of the classes have weekly quizzes and some have final exams.  I much prefer the quizzes over the exam.  Finally there is an essay for every course.  It is 1500 word minimum for the graduate level and involves deep poetry analysis, but it not overly difficult.  The Discussion board is usually 40% of the grade as long as you get the minimum points you are good and the other point values vary, but the Essay is usually 20-30% of the grade.  If you do well on other aspects, your grade doesn't ride on the essay.  Don't be afraid of the essay and just make sure and give yourself time to give it adequate attention.
20 year old son: Student at Pierpont CTC pursuing the BOG AAS.
Myself: BS Business/French-1991, Masters of Rehabilitation Counseling-1995, Completed the Poetry in America Series from HES for 20 credits in English in May 2019 and now on my way to collecting more graduate credits.  
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#6
I've found them to be a lot of fun and not difficult. I got an 85 on one essay, 90 on another, and 95 on the third (with EFFUSIVE praise from the TA). They definitely provide sample essays, which I will post for you if you really want to see them. I can also post one of my own if you like. The course will either have unproctored, no time limit, open book weekly quizzes of 4-5 questions(which I prefer). Or a 50 question 12 hr time limit unproctored open book "take home" exam at the end of the course instead of the quizzes. But not both. I prefer the quizzes. They drop your two lowest quiz scores, so you can absolutely bomb two quizzes and still make 100.

You get 40% on discussion board participation - and it's solely on participation. I believe you really could start talking about Fred Van Vleet's ability to shut down Steph Curry's offense (basketball) and still get the participation score on discussion board. There's a limit of say 40-45 points in a week and you have to hit a target number of total points, which is easy to do early if you're consistent. The portal keeps track of your participation score, so it's easy to see if you're hitting your mark for the week. Comments count toward participation, so comment early and often. The ability to miss a few weeks and still get Max discussion board points is built in so people have a little flexibility in case work/life gets in the way.

You get 10% on your thesis paragraph that you turn in separately from the full essay to get feedback on. And again it's not graded. If you do it at all you get the full 10%. That's 50% of your grade knocked out right there. If you're wildly off course on your thesis paragraph, they'll steer you in the right direction with the feedback.

I don't want to call anyone out, but I have knowledge that someone turned out a 700 word essay of half hearted effort when it required 1500 words, got a C on the paper, and still managed a B+ based on the essay being so small a part of the grade.
The paper requires no outside academic research. They don't care or even want you to find academic sources and cite them. They want you to do a deep reading and form your own ideas, interpretations and thoughts on the poem(s), meanings, language and symbolism. It's pretty wide open what you can write about, though they offer topic suggestions. (I prefer a compare/contrast of two works so I have more to write about.)

I went from feeling like one of the smarter folks in my COSC cohorts to feeling like the dumbest person in the Harvard discussion group. (And that's a good thing. I love being the dumbest guy in the room, because I'll always learn so much!) It elevated my level of thinking about poetry. The course video material is really good and has a good variety. It's rarely ever just a classroom lecture.
Sign up ASAP. Don't be intimidated. I promise you won't regret it. You have nothing to lose but $250. Best deal in the last 20 years. Take it!
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#7
(06-01-2019, 05:41 PM)eriehiker Wrote: In terms of writing, I think that there is a funny paradox in terms of grad. classes. Places like Walden and less-reputable online colleges focus obsessively on APA format and other technical issues because they want to support their legitimacy. Conversely, classes like this at Harvard don't seem to stress the format because Harvard doesn't need to prove anything. They just want students to read all of the poems, think deeply and write a thoughtful and passionate essay.

I just have to say that I love this insight and agree as well.
I took a grad class at HES a few years back, it was my first grad level and - well- Harvard and all..... so I was pretty freaked out about the writing. I had a big 1st paper to submit in the morning, APA style, and it was late at night and I had this big question about the placement of a period or something like that. I emailed the TA late and he wrote me right back and told me they didn't care about the period, to focus on my content.
That's not been the case with the online courses our family has taken at other colleges, where the MOST important thing is strict adherence to structure.
Jennifer
10-year member

MS Applied Nutrition, 2014 Canisius College, NY
Premed/Prenursing Sciences, 2011 Ocean County College, NJ
BA Social Science, 2008 Thomas Edison State University, NJ
AA General Studies, 2008 Thomas Edison State University, NJ
AOS Culinary Arts,1990 Culinary Institute of America, NY

Homeschooling for College Credit
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#8
(06-01-2019, 05:41 PM)eriehiker Wrote: Based on your post, you have enough writing ability to go straight to the Poetry in America courses.  I have taken all five of the classes and I have taught high school English for twenty years.

Roughly 40% of the grade is via forum posts.  These take some time, but it is all effort.  You just need to have read enough of the poems to write five thoughtful posts per week.  My feeling is that this is an automatic/computer-generated grade based on points.  The TA's are there and are very involved in the board, but I think that the only way to lose points here is if you don't read anything and start talking about basketball.  In fact, my guess is that your interest in the subject and obvious passion will make your posts among the best in the class.

10% of the grade has been based on simply completing the essay thesis statement and opening paragraph.  Again, this is an effort grade.

In terms of writing, I think that there is a funny paradox in terms of grad. classes.  Places like Walden and less-reputable online colleges focus obsessively on APA format and other technical issues because they want to support their legitimacy.  Conversely, classes like this at Harvard don't seem to stress the format because Harvard doesn't need to prove anything.  They just want students to read all of the poems, think deeply and write a thoughtful and passionate essay.

This does not mean that the essay will be easy.  Grading is on the difficult side, but that difficulty level is more about the ideas than format.

Also, these classes alternate between weekly graded quizzes and an overall exam.  Again, these are not easy, but they are open book and all it takes it time to get most of the answers correct with some research back into the poems.

One danger with waiting is that the $250 price goes up to normal Harvard Extension school prices which are $1700 per course and above.  Given that possibility, I would highly recommend just going straight to the classes.

Thanks so much for the informative post and kind compliment. I'm still a bit awestruck at the thought of attempting a course at "Haaaahvard"!

I was fascinated by your observation that Harvard is not "nitpicky" about essay format as they don't need to prove anything. It makes sense. At that level, they're not obsessing about periods and commas, they're obsessing about thoughts.

And having said that, I've gone and scared myself, again... Blush
"I dwell in Possibility."  Emily Dickinson
2011-12  CLEP
 Int Psych - 75 / H G & D - 69 / Ed Psych - 72 / Am Lit - 80  / A & I Lit - 75 / Eng Lit - 73 2012-13  SL  Eng Comp I - 95.3% P /
Eng Comp II - 97.5% P 2014  EC/UEXCEL  Ab Psych - A / Soc Psych - A / Psych A & A - A  / Gerontology - A / Info Lit - P 2015 BYU Sport Psych - A / DSST Sub Abuse - 470 / Int World Rel - 481 / H T Y H - 465 / Tor College HIS 301 - 81% P 2016 EC LA498 Capstone - A
1991 AA Liberal Arts USNY Regents College
2016 BSLA Magna Cum Laude Excelsior College  - A 5 year journey COMPLETED!

2017-2019 Study.com Certs. - Am Lit/Brit Lit/Shakespeare/Poetry Review Shmoop - Shakespeare's Plays/Shakespeare in Context/Women's Lit
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#9
(06-01-2019, 08:27 PM)elbebopkid Wrote: I've found them to be a lot of fun and not difficult. I got an 85 on one essay, 90 on another, and 95 on the third (with EFFUSIVE praise from the TA). They definitely provide sample essays, which I will post for you if you really want to see them. I can also post one of my own if you like. The course will either have unproctored, no time limit, open book weekly quizzes of 4-5 questions(which I prefer). Or a 50 question 12 hr time limit unproctored open book "take home" exam at the end of the course instead of the quizzes. But not both. I prefer the quizzes. They drop your two lowest quiz scores, so you can absolutely bomb two quizzes and still make 100.

You get 40% on discussion board participation - and it's solely on participation. I believe you really could start talking about Fred Van Vleet's ability to shut down Steph Curry's offense (basketball) and still get the participation score on discussion board. There's a limit of say 40-45 points in a week and you have to hit a target number of total points, which is easy to do early if you're consistent. The portal keeps track of your participation score, so it's easy to see if you're hitting your mark for the week. Comments count toward participation, so comment early and often. The ability to miss a few weeks and still get Max discussion board points is built in so people have a little flexibility in case work/life gets in the way.

You get 10% on your thesis paragraph that you turn in separately from the full essay to get feedback on. And again it's not graded. If you do it at all you get the full 10%. That's 50% of your grade knocked out right there. If you're wildly off course on your thesis paragraph, they'll steer you in the right direction with the feedback.

I don't want to call anyone out, but I have knowledge that someone turned out a 700 word essay of half hearted effort when it required 1500 words, got a C on the paper, and still managed a B+ based on the essay being so small a part of the grade.
The paper requires no outside academic research. They don't care or even want you to find academic sources and cite them. They want you to do a deep reading and form your own ideas, interpretations and thoughts on the poem(s), meanings, language and symbolism. It's pretty wide open what you can write about, though they offer topic suggestions. (I prefer a compare/contrast of two works so I have more to write about.)

I went from feeling like one of the smarter folks in my COSC cohorts to feeling like the dumbest person in the Harvard discussion group. (And that's a good thing. I love being the dumbest guy in the room, because I'll always learn so much!) It elevated my level of thinking about poetry. The course video material is really good and has a good variety. It's rarely ever just a classroom lecture.
Sign up ASAP. Don't be intimidated. I promise you won't regret it. You have nothing to lose but $250. Best deal in the last 20 years. Take it!
Thank you so much for your in-depth post - you really provided me with tremendous insight regarding the inner workings of the class.
 
Your offer to share both a sample essay and your own is tremendously kind – and GREATLY appreciated!! I have quite a bit of self-doubt when it comes to multi-page essay assignments, as my only experience in producing "long-ish" papers centered around SL Comp and my Capstone. I really think seeing what is expected regarding a 1500 word Harvard-level essay will be the deciding factor for me - I’ll know if I’m ready to jump in or if I need to boost my skills with a writing refresher course.
 
Again, many thanks for your help – and congratulations on your successful achievements! (85% - 95% on Harvard essays…very, very impressive! Smile )
"I dwell in Possibility."  Emily Dickinson
2011-12  CLEP
 Int Psych - 75 / H G & D - 69 / Ed Psych - 72 / Am Lit - 80  / A & I Lit - 75 / Eng Lit - 73 2012-13  SL  Eng Comp I - 95.3% P /
Eng Comp II - 97.5% P 2014  EC/UEXCEL  Ab Psych - A / Soc Psych - A / Psych A & A - A  / Gerontology - A / Info Lit - P 2015 BYU Sport Psych - A / DSST Sub Abuse - 470 / Int World Rel - 481 / H T Y H - 465 / Tor College HIS 301 - 81% P 2016 EC LA498 Capstone - A
1991 AA Liberal Arts USNY Regents College
2016 BSLA Magna Cum Laude Excelsior College  - A 5 year journey COMPLETED!

2017-2019 Study.com Certs. - Am Lit/Brit Lit/Shakespeare/Poetry Review Shmoop - Shakespeare's Plays/Shakespeare in Context/Women's Lit
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#10
At the end of the day, Harvard students and teachers are people like everyone else (although, with maybe a bit more ambition and achievements than the norm). However, what I think distinguishes them the best is their intent on quality. 

Prof. New is a great teacher, and the team behind the course (there are a lot of people behind it) are awesome. Don't worry about it being Harvard, or if you're new to poetry. The energy of the course is uplifting, and the general intention is to learn and discover poetry. 

Just focus on participating and enjoying the weekly discussions, carefully doing the exam (it's open book) and when you'll have reached the essay, the points won't matter since you'll have done a lot of the needed work for the course already.

Good luck. Smile
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