This section of Renaissance Literature (331) is unique in at least three respects. First, we will focus just on the lyric tradition in literature, from the early Renaissance to an in-depth reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, invaluable preparation for anyone going on to take English 445: William Shakespeare. Second, the course is cross-listed with LLEA 337: Italian Literature in Translation, so part of the course will be reading the Italian lyrics–especially those by Petrarch–which are endlessly translated, imitated and sometimes parodied in the English Renaissance. Lyric poetry in English stems directly from this Italian tradition, rarely taught here at UH. Finally, we will also be reading an anthology of Renaissance Italian women poets: it is little known that a huge body of great literature by women was written in Italian in the Renaissance and both general literacy and literary production was far more advanced in Italy than elsewhere in Europe, indeed the world. These poets engage the male Petrarchan tradition in fascinating ways that deserve to be better known and speak directly to us today.
The course will be run as a seminar or discussion course, with a focus on in-class discussion of these mostly short (but often complex) works. The major assignments for the class will be a series of short papers due across the semester on topics that feed back into the class discussions.
English 331 fulfills the English major’s breadth of field requirement. Its sister course, LLEA 337, is an Ethics focus course so satisfies the E focus requirement.