This course traces the fortunes of the Renaissance lyric, from its debut in the Petrarchan experiments of Wyatt and Surrey through its complex revaluation in Herbert's religious and Milton's epic poetry. We will also read sonnet sequences by Shakespeare and Sidney; poems by Ralegh and Donne; Gascoigne's Adventures of Master F.J.; parts of Spenser's Shepheardes Calender and Faerie Queene. From the vantage of these texts, and from brief examples of contemporary criticism, we will explore the following issues: the representation of the public and the private self; the relationship of manuscript to print culture; the construction of authority, gender, sexuality, and class in lyrical writing; the nature of courtiership; the problem of female monarchy and desire; and the impact of the Reformation on the theory and practice of the genre.
In addition to lively participation in discussion, the requirements of this course include a memorization exercise, two brief papers using the Oxford English Dictionary and the MLA Bibliography of Literary Criticism, two position papers, and a final essay. There will be no midterm or final examination.