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This is the web version of the Voices and Visions Telecourse taught at Des Moines Area Community College during the summer of 1999. Please use the following "table of contents" to navigate the syllabus.

Voices and Visions Bulletin Board/Chat Area
Meet Your Instructor
Due Dates
Weekly Assignments
Discussion Sessions
Instructor Contact Information
Meet Your Instructor:
Kris Bigalk Keeney

I'll be your instructor for the Voices and Visions Telecourse this semester. I hope you're looking forward to learning more about thirteen of the poets who shaped American poetry. The Voices and Visions series is one of the most educational and enjoyable video productions about poets and poetry that's available today, and your texts also present some of the best American poetry ever published.

Let me tell you a little about myself. This is my fifth year at DMACC as a full-time English instructor. I have a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing/Poetry from Florida State University, a Master of Arts in Teaching English from Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University), and a Bachelor of Arts in English, Minor in Music from Drake University. During the spring semester of every year, I teach a poetry writing course on Monday evenings.

Since, for the most part, this is a correspondence course, our methods of communication will be the telephone, the "snail mail" and the e-mail (for those with access, of course). There will be two ways for you to keep up on any changes in the syllabus (please plan to access one of these options weekly):
1. An info-line: (515) 965-6020, extension 695
2. A webpage:

If you need to reach me, give me a call at (515) 964-6577, or e-mail me at

Please read your syllabus carefully and make sure your assignments arrive on time (a postmark on the due date is not sufficient; it must arrive by the due date). You may hand in your assignments via "snail mail", e-mail, or in person.

I hope you enjoy the programs and the course. I look forward to seeing you at a discussion session, the midterm, and the final. If you have the time and inclination, feel free to call and make an appointment to meet with me sometime during the semester. I'd be happy to discuss your progress, the poets, or anything else related to the class or poetry.

Literature 128-TV: Voices and Visions
Summer 1999
Kris Bigalk Keeney, Instructor
Course Syllabus

Course Description:

This telecourse examines the lives and works of thierteen great American poets. Each program is 60 minutes long, and is aired on Iowa Public Television (Channel 11 in Des Moines area) on Saturday mornings from 6:30 - 7:30 am, beginning May 29 and ending August 1. Tapes of the programs are also available (see below).

Course Objectives:

1. Learn about the life and work of 13 great American poets in their historical and cultural contexts, so that the distinctive characteristics of each poet, as well as the connections between the poets, are evident.
2. Learn to read and appreciate poetry in many styles and voices.
3. Master basic literary terms and basic literary interpretation of poetry.
4. Establish an ongoing interest in American poetry.
5. Grow as a reader, exploring responses to theme, content, and form of poetry.


Text: DiYanni, Robert. Modern American Poets: Their Voices and Visions, 2nd Edition, and Voices and Visions Study Guide, 1st Edition. (Available at Ankeny Campus Bookstore)

Videos: If you miss a particular program and wish to watch it, the Ankeny, Boone, Carroll and Urban campuses have all 13 programs in their libraries; if you wish to view a video from a DMACC library, you must view the video in the library. The Newton Public Library also has copies of each broadcast, as do other local public libraries.

Course Framework:

All assignments must arrive by the due date (if mailed, the postmark must be two days before the due date or before). My address and e-mail address appear at the end of the syllabus.

I will return your assignments as quickly as possible, but most likely they will be returned in batches of two or three. You may call, e-mail, or stop by to inquire about grades. At the end of the semester, your final exam and final assignments will be mailed back to you.

Attendance at at least one discussion session is encouraged.


Each journal/assignment will be give a Superior, Passing, or Not Passing Grade (loosely translated as A, C, and F grades). The criteria for classifying your assignments as one of the above is as follows:

Writing that meets college requirements: typed; shows an in-depth analysis of the writing task and the assigned reading; offers insight; is well-developed and adquately supported; has a readable style and presentation; and uses appropriate grammar and mechanics.

Writing that satisfies most of the above, but has a few easily correctable weaknesses.

Not Passing:
Writing that needs extensive revision to be successful; handwritten papers automatically fail; poorly developed content; superficial analysis; inadequate consideration of the writing task and assigned reading, and/or poor grammar and mechanics.


Late work will lose one letter grade for each calendar day it is late. The only exception to this rule is in the case of an extension, which must be asked for by the student and approved by the instructor prior to the due date.

All journals/weekly assignments must be at least two double spaced pages long, with one-inch margins all around, in 12-point Times Roman font (or smaller). See the MLA Guide Sheet attached.

The two papers must be at least five double-spaced pages long, with one-inch margins all around in 12-point Times Roman font (or smaller). See the MLA Guide Sheet attached.


Paper #1 = 10%
Paper #2 = 10%
11 poet journals (5% per)= 55%
Midterm = 10%
Final = 10%
Discussion Session 5% per (2 "live" and one "online" scheduled) (also for extra credit)

Instructor Information:

My name is Kris Keeney, and I teach English and Education at the Ankeny campus. In addition to the following addresses and phone number, there is a special "assignment/info" line (see Meet Your Instructor Page).

Kris Keeney, Phone: (515) 964-6577
DMACC Ankeny Campus, e-mail:
Building 2, Room 5s
2006 South Ankeny Boulevard
Ankeny, IA 50021
Office Hours: Please call for current office hours

Discussion Sessions:

#1: Thursday, June 24, 1999, 7:00 pm: Grounds for Celebration, 86th and Hickman, Urbandale (don't go to the Beaverdale location!). We'll be discussing Paper #1 and the poets we've covered so far.

#2: Saturday, July 20, 1999, 10:00 am: Online "virtual" discussion. Link to the chatroom from the class webpage at

#3: Thursday, August 12, 1999, 7:00 pm: The Chat Noir, 18th and Woodland, Des Moines. We'll be discussing Paper #2 and all the poets so far.

I'll have a copy of the textbook on my table so you can find me!

Exam Dates:

Midterm Exam:"Take Home" Exam -- due in my office no later than July 23
Final Exam:"Take Home" Exam -- due in my office no later than September 1

Robert Frost Journal = June 17

Ezra Pound Journal = June 17

Langston Hughes Journal = June 17

Discussion Session = June 24

Walt Whitman Journal = July 8

Hart Crane Journal = July 8

William Carlos Williams Journal = July 8

Paper #1 = July 8

Discussion Session (online) = July 20

Midterm Exam = July 23

Emily Dickinson Journal = July 27

Marianne Moore Journal = July 27

TS Eliot Journal = July 27

Discussion Session = August 12

Wallace Stevens Journal = August 17

Elizabeth Bishop Journal = August 17

Robert Lowell Journal = August 17

Sylvia Plath Journal = August 26

Paper #2 = August 26

Final Exam = September 1

Syllabus (NOTE: Page numbers for chapters in Modern American Poets (MAP) are not given, as two editions of the text are in circulation). Study Guide (SG) page numbers are given.

Week 1 (May 29): View Robert Frost video
Assignment: Read Robert Frost in MAP; read 14 - 27, SG. Journal on questions 1, 2, and 5, "After Watching the Film" on page 18, SG.

Week 2 (June 5): View Ezra Pound video
Assignment: Read Ezra Pound in MAP; read 28 - 43, SG. Journal on questions 8 & 9, page 41, SG.

Week 3 (June 12): View Langston Hughes video
Assignment: Read Langston Hughes in MAP; read 44 - 61, SG. Choose 1 - 3 questions on pages 57-58, SG, to journal on.

Week 4 (June 19): View Walt Whitman video
Assignment: Read Walt Whitman, MAP. Read 61-76, SG. Write journal of your choice on Whitman. Choose one of the paper options at the back on the syllabus and write a 5 - 7 page paper (Paper #1)

Week 5 (June 26): View Hart Crane video
Assignment: Read Hart Crane in MAP. Read 76 - 94, SG. Journal on question 2, page 89, question 4, page 90, and question 8, page 91.

Week 6 (July 3): View William Carlos Williams video
Assignment: Read William Carlos Williams, MAP. Read 94 - 108, SG. Journal on one or more of the following pairings of poets, tracing the influences and similarities in their poetry (you'll find the other poets in the back of your MAP book). William Carlos Williams and (take your pick) A.R. Ammons, Frank O'Hara, Robert Creely

Week 7 (July 10): View Emily Dickinson video
Assignment: Read Emily Dickinson, MAP. Read 108 - 124, SG. Journal on question 4, page 119, and question 6, page 120.

Week 8 (July 17): View Marianne Moore video
Assignment: Read Marianne Moore in MAP; read 124-141, SG. Choose two poems by Moore from your text and compare/contrast them, using information from the first chapter of MAP.

Week 9 (July 24): View TS Eliot video
Assignment: Read TS Eliot in MAP. Read 142 - 160, SG. Journal on "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" analyzing voice, images, symbolism, sounds, rhythms, and themes.

Week 10 (July 31): View Wallace Stevens video
Assignment: Read Wallace Stevens in MAP. Read 161-176, SG. Journal on one or two questions of your choice, pages 173-175, and/or compare Stevens' poetry to AR Ammons (back of MAP).

Week 11 (August 7): View Elizabeth Bishop video
Assignment: Read Elizabeth Bishop in MAP; Read 177- 191, SG. Journal on questions 3 & 4, page 183, and question 12, page 189.

Week 12 (August 14): View Robert Lowell video
Assignment: Read Robert Lowell in MAP. Read 192 - 207, SG. Journal on question I, page 197; compare/contrast "Skunk Hour" with Elizabeth Bishop's "The Armadillo" (see question 10, page 206); and answer question 3, page 205.

Week 13 (August 21): View Sylvia Plath video
Assignment: Read Sylvia Plath in MAP. Read 208- 222, SG. Write journal of your choice on Plath. Write Paper #2 (5 - 7 pages), from one of the topic options.

Paper Topic Options:

1. Choose one of the pairings below from Part 3 of your text and poets of the week. Trace the influences of one poet on the other, as evidenced in their poetry (feel free to use any poems by these poets, in your text or from other sources).

Walt Whitman - Kenneth Koch ** Sylvia Plath - Anne Sexton
Walt Whitman - Allen Ginsberg ** Sylvia Plath - Robert Lowell
Walt Whitman - Galway Kinnell ** Sylvia Plath - Sharon Olds

2. Research the life and historical events which occurred during the lifetime of the poet (you must have two outside sources - library reference books are OK) and interpret a poem from your text based on what you learned.

3. Choose a poem from your text and interpret its theme and purpose (see text, pages 3 - 16).

4. Choose two poems from your text by different poets that address the same basic subject (nature, or relationships, for example). Write a paper which analyzes and compares the poems and poets.

5. Come up with an idea of your own (you must have prior approval of the instructor if you choose to exercise this option).