"Love's Martyr: The Heresay of John Donne's 'Songs and Sonnets'"
Thu, October 8, 2009 • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM • Thompson Conference Center
An Odyssey Course event with Gregory Chaplin
Born into a devout Roman Catholic family that held onto to its
prohibited faith despite official persecution, John Donne (1572-1631)
struggled to advance himself in the Protestant social order of early
modern England. Just at the moment when he had established a promising
future, he threw it away for love, running off with the
seventeen-year-old niece of his employer, the powerful Lord Keeper of
the Great Seal. Composed during this period, his remarkable Songs and Sonnets
sparked a poetic revolution: his contemporaries recognized that by
casting aside “the lazy seeds of servile imitation” and planting “fresh
invention,” he charted a new direction in English poetry. This talk
will examine how Donne’s love poems fuse his Catholic heritage with the
radical religious impulses of his time to devise a religion of love
that allows him to recast the devastating social exile initiated by his
secret marriage into a triumph.
Recommended reading: John Donne, selected poems
GREGORY CHAPLIN is an Assistant Professor of British literature at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and the co-editor of The Norton Critical Edition of Seventeenth-Century British Poetry.
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