This class is designed to encourage students to read and admire (maybe even love!) Renaissance poetry. We will begin by querying the periodizing rubric Renaissance: what do these poems have to do with re-nascence or rebirth? We will then read poems by Wyatt and Surrey from the anthology that first introduced English verse to a wide readership (Tottell’s Miscellany). From there, we will move to two epyllions (Marlowe’s Hero and Leander and Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis) before shifting to selections from four sonnet sequences (Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti, Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and Mary Wroth’s Pamphilia and Amphilanthus). That will take us to Isabella Whitney’s defiant A Sweet Nosegay, Ben Jonson’s Epigrams of praise and blame, John Donne’s erotic and abstruse Songs and Sonnets, and George Herbert’s devotional The Temple. It could be said that all of these poems are driven by desire, sometimes productive, sometimes destructive. What shapes do these poems give to desire? And what shapes does desire give to these poems?
Requirements: 5 short critical papers, class presentations, and a final.