English 190

Research Seminar: Metaphysical Poets from Donne to Vaughan


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
12 Fall 2013 Marno, David
TTh 2-3:30 206 Wheeler

Book List

Colin, Burrow: Metaphysical Poetry

Description

This class focuses on a group of poets who were philosophical before there was philosophy. Four decades before the publication of René Descartes’ Meditations, John Donne began writing poems in which, in the words of a later critic, “he perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts.” According to this summary judgment on Metaphysical Poetry, Donne’s new verse was a category mistake: he philosophized where he should have spoken amorously. Why did he do so? And why did numerous other poets follow suit in the first half of the seventeenth century?

In this class, we read the metaphysical poets and their contemporaries in order to figure out what they tried to achieve in their poetry. Did they try to solve philosophical problems? Was it for entertainment? Or to gain patronage? Were they seeking employment? Was it perhaps a kind of spiritual exercise for them? Answers may vary as we slowly parse through the beautiful and often weird poems of Donne, Herbert, Lock, Carew, Philips, Crashaw, Bradstreet, Traherne, Vaughan, and Marvell. Most of the poems are included in Burrow; additional poems and secondary literature will be available on BSpace.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Please read the paragraph on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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