Course Instructor Days Times Room

Topics Title
History & Theory of the Lyric

This class will survey the history and theory of the modern lyric, focusing on understandings of the Anglo-American lyric from the Renaissance to the present. We will study the primary writings on the lyric during this timespan, including criticism by Sir Philip Sidney, Pope, Dryden, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Mill, Emerson, Poe, Arnold, Yeats, and Baudelaire. Turning to the 20th century, we will engage the importance of the lyric to the Frankfurt School, the New Criticism, and Structuralist and Post-Structuralist theory, concluding with Feminist and New Historicist approaches to the lyric. Our readings in criticism and theory will be accompanied by readings in relevant (often contemporaneous) lyric poets. One of our chief concerns will be to trace how and why the lyric, originally distinguished from epic and dramatic modes, comes to stand in for Poetry more generally; and to explore why the lyric has proven to be an influential and contested territory for a number of twentieth-century critical trends. This course will engage formal as well as historical concerns: as we study the various ways in which the modern lyric has been defined and conceived, we will consider some of its central forms (sonnet, pastoral, elegy, ballad, ode, song, free verse).


Journals and informal writing; Reading Quizzes; short essays; song lyrics project; final longer essay.


Attendance will be factored into your final grade.