The Poetry & Poets of the First World War by Dr Paul Jarman

Ref: C3747217

The First World War generated an unprecedented amount of new poetry—more than any previous war in which Great Britain had been involved. Throughout the conflict, poetry was used for a variety of purposes, from recruitment to protest. While much of this poetry was written by those who were directly involved in the action, there was also a significant amount written by civilians back at home, including women. In this course we will explore a varied selection of poetry—some very familiar and some less so—written during WW1. Tackling different themes each week, we will take a small selection of poems and ask how they contribute to (or perhaps even distort) our understanding of the period. We will examine the lives of the poets whose work we are studying and place the poems alongside other material, such as letters, diaries and other personal reminiscences.

Course aim

To examine a selection of poems, largely written between 1914–18, to ask how their writers (men and women), whether directly involved in the action or not, used the medium of poetry to express their experiences of and attitudes towards the war.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Give examples of at least 3 pieces of WW1 poetry and/or 3 WW1 poets.
  • Explain how those poets used the medium of poetry to represent their personal experiences (as well as the experiences of those around them) of the impact of war.
  • Describe how the poetry of the period might complement other written or oral recollections.
  • Examine poetry and demonstrate an enhanced critical awareness to express opinions of the poems under discussion.
  • List at least one piece of WW1 poetry (or WW1 poet) that is new to me.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

This is an online course, so you will need an email address and a device with a camera and speakers in order to participate in the weekly Zoom sessions and to access the WEA's Student Learning Record and other crucial material which is generated and stored on our online learning platform Canvas.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

The Poetry & Poets of the First World War by Dr Paul Jarman


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