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 widely and deeply in the sonnet sequences of Shakespeare, Sidney, and Spenser; the poems of Ralegh and Donne; Gascoigne's Adventures of Master F.J. and Sidney's prose fiction; Puttenham's literary theory; Shakespeare's Lucrece; and Spenser's Shepheardes Calender, Colin Clout's Come Home Againe, and the "House of Busirane" episode in The 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 weekly position papers and lively participation in discussion, the requirements of this course include a memorization exercise, a short paper, and longer, final essay. There will be no midterm or final examination.