20th Century American and British Poetry

Jan 2012

This is an email I sent to Professor Massamilla after the class was over: "I just wanted to say thank you again for the class. I enjoyed it very much, and truly appreciated how much effort and thought you put into the sessions. I also was grateful for the extensive comments you put on our papers. You obviously care about the material, and you gave both the students and the poems themselves the attention and respect they deserve."

Jan 2007

Prof Mass infused this class with so much fun and genuine insight. I came in hating poetry and left with an obsession. He quotes Dante in Italian, personally knew Kenneth Koch and Louise Gluck, and offers insight into your own work. And on occasion he even brings in organic treats. He writes more commentary on your essays than you originally wrote and almost all of it ends up being helpful. The classes focus on specific poems with general notes on the author. If you're an English major, or just dabbling in the realm of poetry, take this class.

May 2002

Ugh. Violi's "teaching" usually consisted of reading a given poem out loud and then exclaiming, "Reminds you of Swinburne, doesn't it? Marvelous!" Then he would move on. Having not read any Swinburne, I can't really evaluate whether or not this was a useful analysis, but I sort of doubt it. This man may be an excellent poet, but apparently no one ever told him how to give a college lecture. His ability to give a coherent interpretation of a poem or an author was nonexistent. He typically ran out of steam about 45 minutes into the class and ended there -- which was a blessing because it was agony to listen to him, but certainly didn't make me feel that he wanted to be there any more than I did. Violi made a few abortive attempts to solicit class discussion that met with no success. There was TA who spoke excessively bad English (it was not his first language), and Violi never bothered to tell us his name (I'm not sure he knew what it was). Finally, I should note that if you are not (a) an obnoxious elderly female GS auditor, (b) unacceptably and obnoxiously pretentious, or (c) a Barnard student, you will be in a small minority. I did not like this class at all.