English 165

Special Topics: Ovid and the English Renaissance

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
9 Spring 2016 Landreth, David
TTh 3:30-5 200 Wheeler

Book List

Dante: Inferno; Donne, J.: Major Works; Hardie, P.: Cambridge Companion to Ovid; Jonson, B.: Poetaster; Marlowe, C.: Complete Poetry; Marlowe, C.: Doctor Faustus; Ovid: Heroides; Ovid: Metamorphoses; Ovid: Poems of Exile; Petrarch: Poetry; Shakespeare, W.: A Midsummer Night's Dream; Shakespeare, W.: Complete Sonnets and Poems; Shakespeare, W.: The Tempest; Spenser, E.: Edmund Spenser's Poetry


Her bosom was wrapped in smooth thin bark; her slender arms were changed to branches and her hair to leaves; her feet but now so swift were anchored fast in numb stiff roots; her face and head became the crown of a green tree. -- Ovid, Metamorphoses bk. 1

Of his bones are coral made;

Those are pearls that were his eyes;

Nothing of him that doth fade

But doth suffer a sea change

Into something rich and strange. -- Shakespeare, Tempest 1.2

The Roman poet of mythic transformation and urbane seduction, of distant longing and alien exile, Ovid infused the Renaissance with gorgeous pagan forms of desire, loss, and strangeness. His influence on literary culture was made only the more thrilling, and more pervasive, by the distance of fifteen centuries and by the radically contrary values and beliefs of Christian religion.

We'll read most of Ovid's major works in translation--Metamorphoses, his epic book of changes; Amores, his erotic lyric poems; Heroides, his collection of letters from the lovelorn women of myth; and Tristia, the lamentations of his exile to the barbarian frontier of the Roman Empire. We will trace how the greatest writers of sixteenth-century England engaged Ovid's strange pleasures and griefs in producing the richness and the strangeness of their own poetry and drama.

This course is open to English majors only.

This section of English 165 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

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