2018 - 2019

  Sonnets and Sonneteers in the English Renaissance  
Noam ReisnerWebb - School of Languages103 1000-1200 Sem  1
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description

Sonnets and sonneteers in the English renaissance - Advanced course


סונטות ברנסנס האנגלי – קורס מתקדם


The sonnet is perhaps one of the most immediately recognizable poetic forms. What has come to be known as a "Shakespearean sonnet" – fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameters and a concluding couplet – is especially famous today as an enduring testimony to the genius of the poet who lent his name to this form, as well as to the golden age of renaissance English literature when the sonnet was at the height of fashion. But Shakespeare's perfection of the sonnet form was a late development in a long-established tradition of sonnet-writing, which began with the Italian sonnets (or songs) of Petrarch, and subsequently flourished throughout renaissance Europe, especially in France, Spain, and England.  As the sonnet form evolved, so did the cultural and artistic demands made of it, and in this course,  we will survey the poetic, rhetorical and conceptual development of the sonnet in the English renaissance. Our objective throughout will be to study the close interaction between the development of poetic form on the one hand, and the complex ideas about art, poetry, love, religion, or politics attached to this evolving form on the other. The material will span the development of the sonnet in England, from the direct influence of the early Italian songs of Petrarch, through the sonnets of the early Tudors, to the great sonnet sequences of Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare and some of their lesser known contemporaries, including Henry Howard, Fulke Greville, Michael Drayton, Richard Barnfield, John Dickenson and Mary Wroth.


Reading: The sonnets of Petrarch (in translation), Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Edmund Spenser's Amoretti and Epithalamion, William Shakespeare's The Sonnets, and a selection of sonnets from other poets from the period posted on the course website throughout the term.


Requirements: Attendance, a take-home midterm assignment (30% of final grade), and a final exam (70% of final grade).


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