English 24

Freshman Seminar: English Sonneteers: Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2020 Nelson, Alan H.
M 12-1


The finest practioners of the English sonnet tradition were, in death-date order, Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and John Donne. After brief biographical surveys, this seminar will consider sonnet types (Italian, English), metrics (meters, rhyme schemes), conventions (Petrarchan, anti-Petrarchan), sonnet "cycles," and varieties of subject matter (love, sex, religion . . . ???). Technical analysis will serve as a portal into worlds of desire, hope, jealousy, resignation, sorrow, bitterness, disgust, and love, both human and devine. As all materials required for this course will be available online, no textbook is required. Each student will write one short essay (doubtless with several drafts). An equally important goal will be mastery of the seminar format.

This 1-unit course may not be counted as one of the twelve courses required to complete the English major.

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