Dr. Hadara Bar-Nadav
Department: English Language and Literature
EUReka Course: ENGL 215: Introduction to Poetry (online)
See Dr. Bar-Nadav's Syllabus
How was teaching your EUReka class different from other similar classes you've taught?
Introduction to Poetry is an eight-week online course that has been adapted for EUReka and incorporates undergraduate research. In this course, students were required to create a Mid-Term Poetry Presentation that included an in-depth analysis of a contemporary or recent poem not included in our class anthology; a video or audio reading by the poet; an overview/description of one relevant scholarly article or review about the poet’s work with key quotes from the article or review; and a works cited page. In addition, students were required to respond to peer presentations.
The Mid-Term Poetry Presentation gave students the opportunity to share their knowledge with their peers and either discover new writing by a poet they were introduced to in class or to share poetry they had already enjoyed prior to taking the class. In either case, students expanded and sharpened their analytic and research skills. They were required to apply the literary terms we were learning to their analysis of the poem. They also became familiar with online resources from which to locate primary and secondary materials (Poets.org; Poetryfoundation.org; Modern American Poetry, etc.) In addition, students learned how to identify “scholarly material,” analyze it, and apply it to a primary text. Finally, students were guided in how to use MLA style to quote from primary and secondary texts and to create a works cited page, which prepared them for their final research papers.
When I teach Introduction to Poetry in person, I generally assign group presentations. However, in this EUReka course students worked independently and, as such, were more free to select a poem to analyze and complete the accompanying research. In addition, they were introduced to dozens of poems beyond our class anthology. In effect, we created an online library of additional poems, which were brought to life by the audio and video components and richly contextualized through students’ analyses of the poems and secondary articles. Students not only built a sense of community by reading and commenting on each other’s presentations, but they also learned to see themselves as part of the scholarly and poetry-reading community beyond our classroom.
Though I regularly assign a final paper for this course, this is the first time students were required to include research. The Mid-Term Poetry Presentations gave students an opportunity to practice analyzing and incorporating research prior to writing their final papers. Through feedback on their presentations and on each of their assignments throughout the course, I was also able to guide them in their analyses of primary and secondary sources.
How did teaching a EUReka class allow you to more tightly intertwine your research interest and your teaching responsibilities?
My research interests are largely focused on modern, contemporary, and recent poetry. In addition, I am co-author of the textbook Writing Poems, 8th ed. (with Michelle Boisseau). This EUReka class, and in particular the poetry presentations, allowed me to see what contemporary poets and poems students were really excited about. In turn, this may impact what readings I will assign in the future for this course and for other courses. In addition, it may also inform my selection and analyses of poems for future editions of Writing Poems.
My research is also firmly rooted in the practice of writing poetry. I hope I share my enthusiasm for poetry with my students, who in turn share their enthusiasm with me. Without a doubt, students help me discover new poets and rediscover old favorites with fresh eyes.
How do you think your EUReka students benefited from being exposed to undergraduate research early in their academic careers?
Exposing students to undergraduate research early in their academic careers makes research less daunting. Students often seem intimated by poetry as well as by research. However, a step by step approach that helps them build off of knowledge they have already gained in the course takes off some of the pressure/anxiety. Students in my class already had learned about things like metaphor, imagery, and poetic form, so they were able to successfully apply that knowledge to a new poem. In addition, they could understand how scholars were using these terms in the articles and reviews. When students used research to expand their ideas about a particular poem they were already interested in, they had a more friendly and hopefully less intimidating introduction to using research.
What advice would you have for colleagues thinking of offering a EUReka course
Go for it! Think about how to make research come to life for students and how it can help them energize their own learning process. I thought the use of digital media would help students get excited about poetry—and it worked. They came up with great audio/video samples and were particularly enthusiastic about this presentation component in their peer responses. Poetry came to life for them! Learning how to access and incorporate research also gave students a variety of skills that will serve them in other English classes and in any other class that requires research.