Course Instructor Days Times Room


The weirdest poetry ever written about the weirdest time to be alive. Seventeenth-century English poetry reflects and responds to revolutionary cultural shifts, from advancements in biological sciences and medicine to the ongoing Protestant Reformation, emergent ideas about autonomy, gender, and society, the overthrow of monarchy with the English civil war, and the global exploration and conquest that began to define the British Empire.  What emerged was poetry that grappled with new philosophies. The wild and arcane imagery in the “metaphysical” conceits of John Donne and Henry Vaughan mapped out scientific and medical discoveries, and the poetry of Mary Wroth and Andrew Marvell forged a new relationship between humans and nature.  The religious lyrics of George Herbert and Richard Crashaw dramatized the Protestant quest for an intimate relationship with the divine, in some cases so intimate that it could be called erotic.  We will combine our readings of poetry with excerpts from Renaissance texts on natural science, medicine, exploration, and religion by writers such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Browne, along with readings in current literary scholarship and history.