Spring 2012

Lyrics Before the Lyric


Ingrid L. Nelson (Section 01)


[before 1800]  (Offered as ENGL 441 and EUST 441.)  No word for lyric poetry is in use in Europe until the sixteenth century.  This course examines the poems written before and at the dawn of the definition of lyric poetry, in order to form our own working definition of a short, musical poem.  We will read poetry by Sappho, Horace, Pindar, anonymous medieval writers, Richard Rolle, William Dunbar, and others, along with classical and medieval tracts on poetry and poetics.  The course will conclude with readings from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century lyric poets (Wyatt, Surrey, Shakespeare, Donne) alongside the treatises that defined lyric for the first time (such as Sidney’s Defense of Poesy).  Does the “lyric” poem change once it is defined?  How do later works speak to the earlier tradition?

Requisite:  At least one previous English course, preferably in poetry.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Nelson.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2020, Spring 2022