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Donne and the Metaphysicals

TW 5:30 - 7:30
Karpen Hall 103

This fast course will look at the tradition established by John Donne, George Herbert, and the other "metaphysical" poets. We will also look at some work from the Cavalier tradition.

Grade Assessment

  • Attentendance / participation 20%
  • Final paper 40%
  • Final exam 40%

Possible Research Topics

  • Patronage
  • Jacobean and Caroline Politics
  • Religion
    Baroque Art, Architecture, or Music
  • Gender, literary misogyny, and sexuality
  • education
  • cosmology and science
  • A critical approach to a single author, e.g.:
    • a feminist reading of Donne, Herbert, or Vaughan, or one of the metaphysicals.
    • a new historical reading of any author, such as Herrick, Jonson, or Traherne
    • a look at the issues of patronage, hetero- and homoerotic imagery in one poet
    • an exploration of paradox in one writer's work
    • a reading of one writer's work in terms of contemporary politics (their contemporary, not ours)
    • an examination of meditation techniques in one metaphysical poet
    • issues of social class in one poet
    • An investigation of science images (e.g. cosmology, navigation, medical) in one poet
    • An investigation of the political use of masque
    • An investigation of one aspect of philosophy or religion in one poet
  • A comparison of two interesting figures, e.g.
    • two metaphysical poets with different backgrounds, such as Herbert and Traherne
    • two metaphysical poets with different attitudes toward the body (e.g. Donne and Crashaw)
    • a comparison of an English metaphysical poet with an American (e.g. Taylor or Bradstreet, or Michael Wigglesworth)
    • a comparison of a male poet with a female (see Kissing the Rod--examples are Aphra Behn and Rachel Speght)
    • A comparison of a 17th century religious poet with a 20th century poet, such as T.S. Eliot, Anne Sexton, or Timothy Liu
    • A comparison of one poet and one visual or musical artist (presupposes you have some grounding in art history or musical appreciation)


Mary Adams