Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of guest posts from Courserians, called “My Coursera Experience”.
My name is Ines Cifuentes. I am 58 and living with Stage 4 breast cancer. One of the tough things about advanced cancer is how much it takes away. My days are long as I can no longer work.
I took the Coursera course, “Modern and Contemporary American Poetry”, taught by Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania. I chose it because as a physics major in college I didn’t have time to take a poetry course. When I saw that we would be reading William Carlos Williams, one of my favorite poets, I signed up. I didn’t learn about Coursera until the course had already started so I began the third week in and tried to catch up. I never did; I am now signed up to take it again in September. I am very happy that I can do that. And they are adding Wallace Stevens!
It was wonderful to be able to take a class on poetry taught by a fabulous teacher and a great group of TA’s. I was impressed by how Professor Filreis used a variety of instructional strategies and technology to create a community of learners.
The TA’s were great and they provided an in-house classroom that we could all watch and be a part of. We learned from watching and listening to them how to read poems closely and talk about them. The class included weekly live webcasts, online readings of the poems, quizzes and writing assignments. Participants joined online forums and in some parts of the world met in person. In the last live webcast several students talked about how the course was transformative.
In my experience one is lucky to have a teacher who is passionate about what s/he studies and wants to share it with you. Al Filreis does that with modern poetry. His enthusiasm is infectious and his deep knowledge of literature reminds us that reading poetry matters in life.