English 190

Research Seminar: Purcell and Handel: Their Art in Setting English Texts to Music

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Spring 2016 Hanson, Kristin
TTh 3:30-5 Note new location: 223 Wheeler Pre-1800 Requirement
British 18th-Century
Research Seminars

Other Readings and Media

A reader containing the texts to be studied as well as secondary readings will be available from University Copy.

Recordings of the music to be studied can be purchased through the Musical Offering or from other sources. These include: John Blow, Venus and Adonis,  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Harmonium Mundi 1999; Henry Purcell, Dido and Aeneas,  Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Harmonium Mundi, 1994, rereleased 2006; Henry Purcell, King Arthur,  Les Arts Florissants, Erato, 1995; John Blow, Ode on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell, Deller Consort, Harmonium Mundi, 1987; John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera, dir. by Jonathan Miller and John Eliot Gardiner, Image Entertainment, 2000; George Frederick Handel, Acis and Galatea, Dunedin Consort, Linn Records, 2008; George Frederick Handel, Alexander’s Feast.  The Sixteen, Coro, 2005; George Frederick Handel, An Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, The King’s Consort, Hyperion, 2004; George Frederick Handel, L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, The King's Consort, Hyperion, 1999; George Frederick Handel, Messiah, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Harmonium Mundi, 2005. 


In the early 1600s, in England Shakespeare was exploring new ways of creating drama through language, with music often playing an important role, but a mostly distinct one.  In those same years, in Italy Monteverdi was exploring new ways of combining language with music to create the new dramatic genre of opera.   By the late 1600s, opera had come to England, too, preceded and followed by various other forms of dramatic vocal music – masques, odes, and oratorios  – in a remarkable set of collaborations between poets and composers.  Poems of Dryden and of Milton, for example, figured especially prominently in musical works of Purcell and Handel. 

These works thus afford beautiful opportunities for extended and detailed comparison of the artistic possibilities of poetry with those of music, for exploration of how the two forms can interact,  and for contextualization of aesthetic ideas from the period that continue to exert influence in our own time.    One area that will be given particular attention in the course will be rhythm, since it takes distinctive forms in poetry and in music, and the combination of the two in textsetting is an art form all its own.   No prior training in either of these areas is required, however. 

The course will include at least one outing to a live performance, the American Bach Soloists' performance of Handel’s setting of Dryden’s ode, Alexander’s Feast.  

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

This section of English 190 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

Spring, 2018
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Trials of Literature: Romanticism, Justice, and the Law Langan, Celeste
190/2 Research Seminar: James Joyce Flynn, Catherine
190/3 Research Seminar: Hawthorne & Melville Tamarkin, Elisa
190/4 Research Seminar: Reading Walden Carefully Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/5 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/6 Research Seminar: Sixty Years Since: The Historical Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/7 Research Seminar: Contemporary Historical Fiction Yoon, Irene
190/8 Research Seminar: Literary Theory and Its Objects Creasy, CFS
190/9 Research Seminar: The Faerie Queene: The Ethics of Imagination Landreth, David
190/10 Research Seminar: Pagan Fictions in Christian Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/11 Research Seminar: Andrew Marvell Picciotto, Joanna M
190/12 Research Seminar: California Books and Movies Since World War I Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
Fall, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Britain in the ‘60s Gang, Joshua
190/2 Research Seminar: The Historical Novel Puckett, Kent
190/3 Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife Creasy, CFS
190/6 Research Seminar: Literature and Revolution Lee, Steven S.
190/7 Research Seminar: Monsters, Exiles, and Outlaws in Medieval Literature Hobson, Jacob
190/8 Research Seminar: George Eliot and the Realist Novel Kolb, Margaret
190/9 Research Seminar: Historiography and Narrative: Literature and the Interstices of History Jones, Donna V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Suspicious Mind Best, Stephen M.
190/11 Research Seminar: Nonsense Hanson, Kristin
190/12 Research Seminar: Making Memories Yoon, Irene
Spring, 2017
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/2 Research Seminar: Harlem Renaissance Wagner, Bryan
190/3 Research Seminar: Literature and the Linguistic Turn Blevins, Jeffrey
190/4 Research Seminar: Jane Austen and the Theory of the Novel Miller, D.A.
190/5 Research Seminar: Writing a World in Crisis: Medieval and Modern Perry, R. D.
190/6 Research Seminar: Shakespeare: From the Globe to the Global Bahr, Stephanie M
190/7 Research Seminar: Place-Love: Fiction and the Melancholy of Form Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/8 Research Seminar: Literatures of the Ocean Sorensen, Janet
190/9 Research Seminar: Beowulf Thornbury, Emily V.
190/10 Research Seminar: Hollywood in the 1930s Knapp, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: The Literature of Immortality Jones, Donna V.
190/13 Research Seminar: California Literature & Film Since WWI Starr, George A.
Fall, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: Emily Dickinson Shoptaw, John
190/2 Research Seminar: Slow Seeing / Slow Reading Hejinian, Lyn
190/3 Research Seminar: Moby-Dick, and More Otter, Samuel
190/4 Research Seminar: U.S. Modernism Goble, Mark
190/5 Research Seminar: Alfred Hitchcock Bader, Julia
190/6 Research Seminar: The Medium Is the Message: Reading Poetry in Manuscript & Print, 1300-1600 Bahr, Stephanie M
190/7 Research Seminar: Note new topic: Troy and Tragedy Perry, R. D.
190/8 Research Seminar: James / Baldwin Best, Stephen M.
190/9 Research Seminar: On Style Xin, Wendy Veronica
190/10 Research Seminar: Do I Dare? Indecision and Modernist Literature Blevins, Jeffrey
190/11 Research Seminar: Modern California Literature and Film Starr, George A.
190/12 Research Seminar: Modern Utopian and Dystopian Literature and Film Starr, George A.
Spring, 2016
Course & Section Course Name Course Areas
190/1 Research Seminar: The Sixties Goble, Mark
190/2 Research Seminar: Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of Dystopia Danner, Mark
190/3 Research Seminar: Late Henry James Breitwieser, Mitchell
190/4 Research Seminar: The Urban Postcolonial Ellis, Nadia
190/5 Research Seminar: Contemporary British Literature and Culture Falci, Eric
190/6 Research Seminar: Classical and Renaissance Drama Knapp, Jeffrey
190/7 Research Seminar: Materiality: How the Physical World Is Made to Mean Flynn, Catherine
190/8 Research Seminar: Vital Texts: Literature and the Discourse of Life Gaydos, Rebecca
190/9 Research Seminar: Medieval and Renaissance Lyric Crosson, Chad Gregory
190/11 Research Seminar Lee, Steven S.
190/12 Research Seminar: Daniel Defoe and the Rise of the 18th-Century Novel Starr, George A.
190/13 Research Seminar: Keats and Literary Tradition Francois, Anne-Lise

Back to Semester List