Article for Teachers

Poetry in America for Teachers: Earth, Sea, and Sky

Harvard Professor covers American environmental literature in her new online course.
By The Editors
Illustration of a landscape scenery with the logo "Poetry in America."

Elisa New's brand new online course Poetry in America for Teachers: Earth, Sea, Sky is open for registration via the Harvard Extension School. This course will empower English Language Arts, Science, and History teachers nationwide to work across disciplines to address challenges confronting the natural world, while supporting national ELA standards and providing opportunities for pedagogical practice. Earth, Sea, Sky​​ covers dozens of poems from the 18th century to the present day, and it provides a rich survey of American cultural and environmental history, as well as opportunities to consider poetry among the visual and performing arts.

Course videos include archivally-rich video lectures and tutorials, roundtable conversations, and one-on-one conversations with poets, scholars, scientists, activists, curators, designers, and performing artists. Featured guest interpreters include former Vice President Al Gore, evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson, climate activist Tom Steyer, photographer Laura McPhee, composer and multimedia artist DJ Spooky, and many more.

View the course trailer:

The Poetry in America series of online courses survey nearly 400 years of American poetry, using video lectures, archival images and texts, expeditions to historic sites, interpretive seminars with large and small groups, interviews with poets and scholars, and conversations about poems with distinguished guests to bring fresh perspectives to the study of American poetry. Past courses include such subjects as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the Civil War, and 20th century Modernism, including many poems originally published in Poetry magazine.

Other Poetry in America courses available for undergraduate, graduate, or professional development credit via the Harvard Extension School include The City from Whitman to Hip Hop; From the Mayflower through Emerson; Whitman and Dickinson; and From the Civil War Through Modernism. Poetry in America also offers free, non-credit courses on the MOOC platform edX. Separately, a a television series was created partly out of this online program, which features conversations about poems with athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages.

Elisa New is Powell M. Cabot Professor of Literature at Harvard University, where she teaches classic American literature from Anne Bradstreet through Marilynne Robinson and from the Puritans to the present day. New is also the director and co-founder of the non-profit educational media company Verse Video Education, and the director of its flagship series, Poetry in America.

Originally Published: March 22nd, 2016
  1. March 30, 2016
     Joseph Feinberg

    This looks great! Enrolled!