BETWEEN ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION: APPROACHES TO ENGLISH POETRY

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1 BETWEEN ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION: APPROACHES TO ENGLISH POETRY Dr. José María Pérez Fernández English Department, University of Granada Visiting professors: Andrew Hadfield, U. of Sussex Neil Rhodes, U. of St Andrews Greg Walker, U. of Edinburgh This course explores the relation between poetic form and the ideas embodied in the poem. We will focus on the early modern English canon, and on the relation between the history of political ideas, theology and poetics. We will start by exploring Petrarchism and its important role as a founding moment in the history of Western poetry. The first sessions in the seminar will address the historical and ideological background of Petrarchism, in particular the influence of Augustine of Hippo and how certain aspects of his work his work exemplify the interweaving of rhetoric, poetics and theology, and how this conglomerate contributed to mould the work of Petrarch, first, and then the poetics of humanism. Augustine s, in turn, resulted from his combination of the Jewish tradition with Classical Roman and Greek philosophy, notably Stoicism and Neoplatonism, all of it in the context of the rhetorical tradition that the West inherited from the Classical world. We will then move on to a consideration of European humanism as the general context for our subsequent approach to the first English Petrarchists, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, and Sit Thomas Wyatt. We will analyse their poetry, and their translations / adaptations from Latin and Italian poetry from the perspective provided by our former approach to Petrarchism, its Augustinian and Classical roots. But we will also consider their poems as the result of the specific historical moment in which they lived. By doing so we intend to become aware of the fact that their work is in the first place the result of longterm trends built upon ancient traditions, and then also the outcome of the historical pressures and circumstances of their own times. In particular, we will examine how the poetry of Surrey and Wyatt responds to the political ideas and the actual political situation during the reign of Henry VIII a moment that includes intense political debates as well as the religious controversies stemming from the Protestant Reformation. Our reading of Sir Philip Sidney s poetry and his treatise Defense of Poetry will give us the opportunity to explore the presence in Sidney s eclectic work of the tradition that we have studied in previous sessions. We shall see how this eclecticism also shows up in certain sonnets from his Astrophil and Stella. We will end our section on English Petrarchism by reading and analysing some of Shakespeare s sonnets. The second part of the seminar will be conducted by our three visiting scholars. Professor Andrew Hadfield will conduct a seminar on Shakespeare and Political Theory, which explores the relation between his work and early modern republicanism as exemplified in Macbeth and Hamlet. Then Professor Neil Rhodes will explore the other side of the debate through an examination of James I s defence of absolute monarchy in his treatise The Trew Law of Free Monarchies. Early modern republicanism and monarchical absolutism were defended by the kind of rhetoric that stemmed from the learned elites of the time: Professor Neil Rhodes will give provide a counterpoint to this by an approach to the popular element in Shakespeare s plays. Our seminars will culminate with Professor Greg 1

2 Walker s analysis of Shakespeare s Henry V, on the topic of how this play embodies the figure of an ideal monarch, taking elements from all the previous traditions. The contents of this seminar are related and continuous with those in Professor Julián Jiménez Heffernan s seminar ( Narratives of Civil Government and the Origins of the English Novel ), in which he relates the origins of the English Novel in the 17 th, 18 th and 19 th centuries with political theory. Also with Professor José Luis Martínez-Dueñas s seminar ( Procedures and methods for the research of English from a sociolinguistic and historical perspective ), since the texts he uses in his sociolinguistic approach to the development of English and its rhetorical strategies are taken from documents of political theory spanning the period that goes from the late Middle Ages and Early Modernity to the 20 th century. There will be no written final essay in this seminar. Students will be evaluated through their class presentations, and their active participation in the seminars. Students will also be required to write a short essay after each session on the topics dealt with in it. 2

3 Thursday, February 24 th :00 20:00 CALENDAR AND SYLLABUS Introduction to the seminar, methodology and the reading assignments Grading policy: - Class presentations and participation: 50% - Written essays: 50% Wednesday, March 9 th :00 20:00 Language and literature polis and subject. The humanist background - John Freccero. The Fig Tree and the Laurel: Petrarch s Poetics. Diacritics, vol. 5, no. 1. Spring 1975, pp Eugene Vance. Saint Augustine. Language as Temporality. In Lyons & Nichols, eds Mimesis: From Mirror to Method, pp Richard Waswo. Magic Words and Reference Theories Journal of Literary Semantics. Vol. 6, 1977, pp José María Pérez Fernández. Between Chaos and Consensus: Language, Literature and Politics in Early Modernity. Wednesday March 16 th :00-20:00 Poetry and politics in early sixteenth century England. The cases of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt: - Henry Howard: o So cruel a prison how could betide, alas o Th Assyrians king o The great Macedon that out of Persia chased o London, hast thou accused me o Wyatt restheth here o Diverse thy death do diversely bemoan - Sir Thomas Wyatt: o Whoso list to hunt o Farewell, Love o Who list his wealth and ease retain o Mine own John Poins - José María Pérez Fernández. Wyatt resteth here. Surrey s republican elegy. 3

4 Renaissance Studies, vol. 18, no. 2, 2004, pp José María Pérez Fernández. Translation and Metrical Experimentation in Sixteenth-Century English Poetry: The Case of Surrey s Biblical Paraphrases. Cahiers Élizabethains, no. 71, Spring 2007, pp José María Pérez Fernández. From Virtue to Compulsion: Epic, Translation, and the Significance of Early Modern Blank Verse. Cahiers Élizabethains, no. 75, Spring 2009, pp Wednesday March 23rd :00-20:00 Poetry, politics and theology in sixteenth-century England: the case of Sir Philip Sidney Reading assignments - Sidney s Defence of Poesie. - An anthology from Sidney s Astrophil and Stella. o Loving in truth, and faine in verse my love to show (A&S 1) o Vertue alas, now let me take some rest (A&S 4) o It is most true, that eyes are form d to serve (A&S 5) o Having this day my horse, my hand, my launce (A&S 41) o Desire, though thou my old companion art (A&S 72) - A selection of Shakespeare s sonnets: o From fairest creatures we desire increase (no. 1) o Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest (no. 3) o When I do count the clock that tells the time (no. 12) o Shall I compare thee to a summer s day? (no. 18) o Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore (no. 60) o My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun (no. 130) o Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will (no. 135) o Two loves I have of comfort and despair (no. 144, pp ) Monday March 28th :00 20:00 Andrew Hadfield Shakespeare and Political Theory - William Shakespeare. Macbeth - William Shakespeare. Hamlet - Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press, Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics. Arden Shakespeare, Wednesday March 30th :00 20:00 Neil Rhodes 4

5 Part I: Shakespeare and popular culture - Neil Rhodes and Stuart Gillespie. Shakespeare and Elizabethan Popular Culture Part II: the rhetorical defense of monarchical absolutism - James I s The Trew Law of Free Monarchies (in Neil Rhodes, et al, eds. King James I and VI: Selected Writings, Ashgate, 2003) Wednesday April 13th :00 20:00 - Greg Walker 'Shakespeare's Henry V and the representation of kingship Reading assignments - William Shakespeare, Henry V 5

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