Comparative Literature | Petrarch & European Petrarchism
C603 | 25202 | Prof. J. Bondanella


W 3:35-5:30 Ballantine 242

This course will provide an in-depth introduction to Petrarch’s
Canzoniere (or Rerum vulgarium fragmenta).  Petrarch’s poetry stands
as a bridge between earlier and later lyric traditions, the primary
lyric and narrative source for six centuries of lyric and love
poetry. We will explore the moral, literary, technical and
architectural tasks Petrarch confronted in composing his songbook;
the development of an introspective voice and lyric persona that
could be adapted beyond the male-centered tradition; the re-
invention of the literary language or rhetoric of love; the
formation of a lyric songbook; the function of mythological types
and figurative language (imagery, oxymora, conceits); the depiction
of women as object and icon; issues of inter-textuality; themes or
topoi, including innamoramento, dreaming and vision, memory, time
and fame, solitude and nature, endless desire and unrequited love,
the body and chastity of the beloved, and the lover’s ecstasy;
psychological dynamics, including anxiety, pain, disease, and
melancholy; images of cruelty, hunting, killing and resurrection;
political and cultural references; neo-platonism; genre and lyric
theory.   Although the course will focus on Petrarch, we will look
at the context of the Canzoniere, including the lyrics of Ovid,
Occitan poetry, the poetry of Renaissance Europe, and some sample
lyrics of modern pop music.  (Was Petrarch himself a “pop icon”?)
We will also explore basic lyrical forms, metrics, and fundamental
elements of Petrarchan poetics.  Selections from Petrarch’s other
works, the Secretum in its entirety, and Augustine’s Confessions
will be required along with selections from Ovid’s poetry.

This course meets with M503.  I encourage students to read the
materials in Italian, but English translations of all these works
are available and will be ordered.  Both an edition in Italian and a
bilingual edition of the Canzoniere will be ordered. Writing will
include a couple of short, analytical essays on the Canzoniere and
one comparative exercise involving a Petrarchan poet from another
European country.  Students will choose the non-Italian Petrarchan
poetry they wish to study.