ENGL 414
Poetry and Prose of John Donne Spring 2010
Division I Writing Skills
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“Wit!-Wonder-exciting vigour, intenseness and peculiarity of thought,” Samuel Coleridge wrote, “this is the wit of Donne!” There is no greater, more daring or more witty, writer of love poems, divine poems, or religious prose in the English language. Donne wrote in a wide variety of classical genres: elegy, epigram, satire, love lyric, epithalamion or marriage song, verse epistle, holy sonnet, hymn, familiar letter, meditation, sermon. Yet he constantly reinvigorated conventional language with “new-made idiom,” turning traditional forms to unpredictable ends.This intensive, discussion-oriented seminar will explore the following questions. What are the characteristics of Donne’s style, and how does his writing evolve over his career? What was the impact of his coterie audience? How does Donne woo his earthy lovers and God in and through verse? To what extent are biography and history pertinent or helpful in understanding Donne’s writing? What made Donne so appealing to T. S. Eliot and the modernists, and more recently, the post-modernists? What are the compelling issues in contemporary Donne criticism?
The Class: Format: seminar/tutorial
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3692
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: first half, students will write short, journal entries as we survey Donne's writing; second half, class will break into tutorials to discuss drafts of the 15- to 20-page seminar paper; the class will then reconvene to discuss revised seminar papers
Prerequisites: a 300-level English course or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: junior and senior English Majors
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills

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