E 392M • Seventeenth-Century British Poetry
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
This course will survey English poetry and its development through the Jacobean, Caroline, Civil War, and Interregnum periods. Most of our attention will be given to poets such as Lanyer, Donne, Jonson, Wroth, Herbert, Crashaw, Carew, Herrick, Philips, Bradstreet, Milton, Lovelace, Suckling, Cleveland, Cowley, Vaughan, Marvell, and the early Dryden. The purpose of the course will be to make students acquainted with a broad variety of seventeenth-century verse and to foster some--non-teleological--sense of the development of late renaissance poetic modes toward neoclassicism. We will not adhere to any particular critical line, though the primary practical effect of the class will be to exercise and sharpen close-reading skills. As the opportunity arises, I hope to introduce some useful approaches to the poems and do confess to a keen interest in themes of religion and sex. Fortunately, this interest is not entirely alien to the poetry we will be reading. My own preoccupations will also be evident in the attention we will pay to the political and ecclesiastical contexts of the poetry, especially as the two coincide in the buildup and outbreak of the Civil War in the 1630's and 40's. Our focus here will be the relations between aesthetic preference and politico-religious commitment and will require some reading in the prose and popular writings of the times. I should point out, however, that the class is fairly traditional in design and content; we will chase the illusion of coverage.