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This tutorial explores elegies as a literary genre. In their most familiar form, elegies honor and memorialize the dead. More broadly conceived, the genre includes works lamenting other kinds of loss as well: the loss of a lover, place, country, or cherished version of one’s past. We’ll consider the special challenges and opportunities of the elegiac voice: how it manages to give public expression to private grief; negotiates problems of tone and perspective; worries about and celebrates the capacity of language to generate hope and consolation; and seeks a kind of solace in the literary effort to evoke, preserve, or rewrite a lost life or an absent past. This course focuses primarily on poetry, English and American, across a broad historical range. We’ll first read poems from 1600-1900–including works by Jonson, Milton, Donne, Dryden, Gray, Shelley, Tennyson, and Whitman, and then turn to some of the twentieth-century’s great poetic elegists–Owen, Yeats, Auden, Lowell, and Heaney. Finally, we’ll consider how the elegiac voice works in fiction, especially in stories by Joyce (“The Dead”) and Nabokov (“Spring in Fialta”).
Format: tutorial; This course will meet remotely. Tutorial pairs will meet for an hour each week with the instructor, using Zoom or Google Meet.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Active participation in tutorial meetings. Students will write a 4- to 5-page paper every other week (five in all), and comment on their partners' papers in alternate weeks
a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam, or permission of the instructor.
Sophomores, but juniors and seniors are also welcome.
All tutorials (at least in English) are by definition Writing Skills courses. Students will write either the main paper or a response critique in alternate weeks. Students will also have the opportunity to revise.
ENGL Literary Histories B