ENGLISH 450 - Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Fall 2023, Section 001 - Seventeenth Century Poetry
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: English Language and Literature (ENGLISH)
Department: LSA English Language & Literature
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credit(s). May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This course examines the lives and writings of several English poets from the seventeenth century, including William Shakespeare, John Donne, Mary Wroth, George Herbert, and John Milton. Some of these writers, such as Donne, powerfully influenced poets in the twentieth century and beyond. Others, such as Mary Wroth—the first woman to write a sonnet sequence in English—were forgotten for centuries. While we will situate each poet in the rich, exciting, and often dangerous world of England in the late 1500s and early 1600s, most of our time will be focused on the poetic output of these writers. This means studying a wide range of poetic forms, and also being mindful of how poetry served as a powerful means of communicating controversial ideas in this period: ideas about religion, human relationships, and so on. At moments, these writers might strike us as our contemporaries, as when they imagine interstellar exploration, the importance of preserving the natural world, and the complexities of the human body's interior. But at other times they will estrange themselves from us, and the societies they inhabit will strike us as very odd and unsettling. As we study the 1600s, we will consider what we have to learn from this distant epoch, and what inhabitants of this world have yet to learn themselves.

This course satisfies the following CURRENT English major/minor requirement: Pre-1642, Pre-1830, Pre-1900, Poetry

This course satisfies the following NEW English major/minor requirements: Foundations & Methods 300/400-level, Regions: Americas, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Time: Medieval/Early Modern

Course Requirements:

This course emphasizes discussion and therefore requires regular attendance and participation. Three papers will be assigned, one in lieu of a midterm exam, another in lieu of a final. . The first, short paper (3-4 pages) will ask students to focus on one or two of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. The second paper (5-6 pages) will ask students to analyze their choice of one or two poems written by John Donne. The last paper (6-7 pages) encourages students to explore the work of a poet they found particularly interesting. In addition to these assignments, each student will participate in one group presentation during the course of the semester.

Intended Audience:

This course is designed to be accessible to all undergraduate students interested in studying poetry, regardless of their background. This includes students majoring in the natural sciences, as well as non-science majors. Everything you will be required to know in this course will be explained to you during the semester.


ENGLISH 450 - Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (REC)
 In Person
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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