Prof. Mary Fuller
MIT Course Number
As Taught In
This course includes a list of related web links, which can be found in the related resources section.
The core of this seminar will be the great sequences of English love sonnets written by William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and Mary Wroth. These poems cover an enormous amount of aesthetic and psychological ground: ranging from the utterly subjective to the entirely public or conventional, from licit to forbidden desires, they might also serve as a manual of experimentation with the resources of sound, rhythm, and figuration in poetry. Around these sequences, we will develop several other contexts, using both Renaissance texts and modern accounts: the Petrarchan literary tradition (poems by Francis Petrarch and Sir Thomas Wyatt); the social, political, and ethical uses of love poetry (seduction, getting famous, influencing policy, elevating morals, compensating for failure); other accounts of ideal masculinity and femininity (conduct manuals, theories of gender and anatomy); and the other limits of the late sixteenth century vogue for love poetry: narrative poems, pornographic poems, poems that don't work.
Other OCW Versions
OCW has published multiple versions of this subject.
- 21L.704 Studies in Poetry: 20th Century Irish Poetry: The Shadow of W. B. Yeats (Spring 2008)
- 21L.704 Studies in Poetry: From the Sonneteers to the Metaphysicals (Spring 2006)
- 21L.704 Studies in Poetry: "What's the Use of Beauty?" (Fall 2005)
- 21L.704 Studies in Poetry - British Poetry and the Sciences of the Mind (Fall 2004)
- 21L.704 Studies in Poetry: "Does Poetry Matter" (Fall 2002)