Sex, Death, and God: English Metaphysical Poetry from Donne to Marvell|
Spring 2018 not offered
This course surveys 17th-century English metaphysical poetry, a body of verse known for both its formal experimentation and its transgressive choices and combinations of subject matter. Surveying poetry by the major metaphysicals (e.g., Donne, Herbert, Marvell), as well as lyrics by more minor poets, we will examine the central concerns of the metaphysical lyric: sex, death, God, and politics. We will think about how these authors used poetry to imagine a whole range of bodies and desires, from Crashaw's homoerotic "liquid poetics" to Donne's intertwined desires for profane and divine love to Marvell's imaginative preoccupation with plant bodies and their sexuality. We will discuss how these poems think about the prospect of death and what comes after, as their authors imagine their future selves as skeletons, as angels, as dust and their poems as tombstones, as wills, as relics. We will talk about 17th-century Christianity, asking how these poems characterize the relationship between the human, organized religion, and the divine, as well as how these poems imagine other religious traditions. Finally, we will think about politics, asking how and if these famously self-contained, abstract lyrics engaged with contemporary political issues from changes in agricultural labor to New World exploration to the regicide of Charles I.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Lecture / Discussion||Grading Mode: Graded|
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (ENGL)(ENGL-Brit Lit)
Donne, SONGS AND SONNETS
Marvell, COLLECTED WORKS
Herbert, THE TEMPLE
As well as lyrics by Cowley, Crashaw, Herrick, Vaughan, Traherne, and others.
|Examination and Assignments: |
one close-reading/scansion paper, one in-class presentation, one longer research paper
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This course fulfills the Literary History I requirement and contributes to the British Literature concentration of the English major.