English 100

Junior Seminar: Song Cycles and Poetic Sequences from Shakespeare to Bishop

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2004 François, Anne-Lise
Francois, Anne-Lise
TTh 9:30-11 109 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Carson A.: Autobiography of Red; Dove, R.: Thomas and Beulah; Gl?ck, L.: Wild Iris; Shakespeare, W.: Sonnets; Course Reader


"This seminar focuses on the protean form of the poetic sequence in a broad range of poets mostly writing in English. It is NOT a survey course in literary history and makes no pretense to canonical coverage. It IS a chance to read some great poetry while exploring different modes of repetition, revision, retraction, call-and-response and completion between poems, as well as formal problems of structure, variant orders, groupings, double plots and multiple voices.

What makes a poem free-standing as well as part of a larger structure? How do poetic sequences organize time differently than more explicitly plot-dependent narrative or dramatic genres? What kinds of experimental patterns--constellations, parallelisms, circular and recursive movements--emerge as alternatives to linear development?

Particular focus will be given to the overlap between problems of formal unity and social and political questions of erotic union, social cohabitation, community and relationship. What kinds of porous, tenuous, shifting, even failed structures or ""houses"" do sequences represent? How is the isolated lyric poem to the sequence as the sexual act to marriage or life-long companionship?

Readings include sonnet cycles, elegiac sequences, marriage sequences, meditative or devotional verse and novels in verse by Petrarch, Shakespeare, Donne, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Barrett Browning, Meredith, Whitman, Hardy, Yeats, Stevens, Geoffrey Hill, Louise Gl?ck, Anne Carson and Rita Dove, among others. Independent readings of other poetic sequences also encouraged. "

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