Questions for the Take-Home Midterm in My Modern American Poetry Course

Instructions: Choose two of the first four questions and write a clearly organized, extended paragraph in response; aditionally, everyone must answer question 5.
  1. Articulate the relationship between alienation and the modernism of Pound and Eliot. Use specific quotations to illustrate your general statements.
  2. Describe the speaker’s relationship to traditional systems of religious belief in Wallace Stevens’ poem “Sunday Morning.”
  3. Historically, what we now call High Modernism came into being just after World War I. Read through Pound’s Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, then describe the effect of the war on Pound and his fellow modernists.
  4. Robert Frost’s poem “Home Burial” presents us with two characters who cannot come to terms with each other. Describe the way in which the physical layout of the scene and the way the characters move within it dramatizes the moral and emotional content of the poem.
  5. [Everyone must answer]. Choose one scene from T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” and put it in the context of the larger poem. What is the situation? Wh is speaking? What is the tone? What is the speaker observing? Etc.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “Questions for the Take-Home Midterm in My Modern American Poetry Course”

  1. Yeah, it’s easier coming up with the questions, at least in some ways, than it is answering the questions. But I work pretty hard to compose questions that come out of class discussion and that are not tooo broad. Looking again at these just now, they seem a little broad to me, actually. I’ll be reading the exams this weekend, so we’ll see.

    By the way, I heard a country song the other day on the radio — didn’t catch the singer — with the line, “Tonight the bartender is on the wrong side of the bar.”

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