Poetry: Poetry of the 1950s

Ref: C3740130

This course will explore poetry written in the post-war era, a time of great social change, when poets of the Beat generation in the USA and a young British generation of poets, questioned politics and culture in a desire to write new kinds of poetry.

Additional information about this course

Half term: 02/06/2017.

Course aim

This course will explore poetry written in the post-war era where poets of the Beat generation in the USA and the Movement in England, began to question politics and culture through their work.

Who is the course for?

What topics will this course cover

The course will look at the poetry of the 1950s in the USA, including the Beat generation and the New York School and at the young post-war generation of English poets such as Larkin, John Wain and Tom Gunn. These poets, on both sides of the Atlantic, pursued the perennial avant-garde imperative to reinvigorate literary culture by destroying what they saw as the hackneyed and moribund in the work of previous generations. This course will explore their aims and objectives and consider how successful they were. We will also look at their legacy, influence and relevance to contemporary poetry.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

1. Recognise the aims of the new generation of young poets writing in the 1950s in the UK and America. 2. Become famiiar with the social and cultural background to their work. 3. Recognise their influence and importance to succeeding generations of poets. 4. Recognise the main themes and ideas that concerned them in their work.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Students will get regular feed-back through question and answer sessions in class to determine their understanding of the topics studied. They will offer comment and criticism in class that will be evaluated and commented on by the tutor.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

There will be two books on the course, one on British and one on American post-war poetry. Both will be available on Amazon at a reasonable price. Details from the Branch Secretary. However, hand-outs of the weekly poems to be studied will be provided, so there is no need to buy the books if students don't wish to do so.

Reading and information sources

Reading through the chosen anthologies would be helpful.

What could the course lead to?

Students would be able to pursue their own reading having acquired a critical background to the topic and some improved skill in reading and understanding poetry of the 1950s. They could attend further WEA poetry courses or Adult Education programmes.

Download full course outline

Poetry: Poetry of the 1950s Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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