French and Italian | Medieval Lit: Petrarch & Petrarchism
M503 | 25782 | Prof. Julia Bondanella

Petrarch’s Canzoniere and the Formation of the Self-Reflextive Lyric

This course will provide an in-depth introduction to Petrarch’s Rime
sparse (or  Canzoniere).  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 a variety of secondary materials.