This seminar will consider the achievements and relationship of two of England’s greatest early poets: Edmund Spenser and John Milton. Reading for the course will be intensive, including large portions of Spenser’s Faerie Queene and the whole of Milton’s Paradise Lost as well as shorter works by these and other writers in order to situate those large poems in the context of early modern discussions about: antiquity, poetry and poetics, literary history, monarchy, religion and Reformation, gender, and colonialism in the New World.
In addition to the primary reading for the seminar, we will read brief selections of contemporary theory and criticism. Students will take turns presenting that analytical material to the seminar. Those presentations, together with class participation and 6 five-page essays will form the basis of the final grade.
Though not required for the course, it would be very beneficial to have some knowledge of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Petrarch, and/ or Chaucer.