Spring 2024

Medieval and Renaissance Lyric

Listed in: English, as ENGL-441  |  European Studies, as EUST-374


Ingrid L. Nelson (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 441 and EUST 374) [Before 1800] In this course, we read a selection of English and other European lyrics (in translation) from the twelfth through the seventeenth centuries. An exciting, fertile era in poetic innovation, these centuries see the dawn of the first romantic love poetry in these languages, the invention of new forms like the sonnet, and the invention of the lyric “anthology.” Reading the lyrics of the French troubadour poets, Chaucer, Petrarch, Wyatt, Donne, Shakespeare, and the many brilliant anonymous poets of medieval England, we will examine both the text and contexts of these short poems. Close readings will be put in dialogue with cultural contexts (such as the volatile court of Henry VIII, in which Thomas Wyatt wrote), and the material contexts of the lyrics (the medieval and early modern manuscripts and books in which they first appeared). We will further think about how the term “lyric” emerges as a privileged poetic category, by reading contemporary “defenses” of poetry and thinking about why the word “lyric” only appears in the sixteenth century. Does the “lyric” poem change once it is defined? How do later works speak to the earlier tradition?

Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Nelson.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to junior and senior English and European Studies majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: TBA


Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2022