English Poetry of the Early Seventeenth-Century

1:00p-2:15p MW (30) 3 cr.

A course in the reading of poetry generally as much as that of the early seventeenth century. We shall start with an extended study of Donne's love and religious poetry, and once we've mastered the art of reading that such poetry demands, we'll move on to the poetry of Jonson, Herbert, Vaughan, Marvell, and one or two others (perhaps Aemilia Lanyer). There will be considerable discussion of how religious feelings and ideas are expressed in verse, and we shall be concerned as well with the social context within which each poet writes. Each student in the class will be given the task of finding out exactly how an assigned poet made a living, what circles he (or she) traveled in, how his or her poetry was distributed and became known to contemporaries. But our major focus will be on the act of reading poetry, figuring out what it means, and how. Class will be conducted completely in discussion and daily participation by every student will be insisted upon. Two or three short papers of detailed poetic analysis and a final exam. The word "metaphysical" will at no time be used to describe the poetry we shall be reading; but after reading it, howsoever it is labeled, students ought to be able to take on virtually any poetry with confidence and enthusiasm.