This is a course on a lot of different topics, genres, periods, and authors in English Language Literature, and on a few theoretical or critical texts that are relevant. Like all introductory courses, we attempt to dive deep very, very quickly. This is the first time I'm teaching it, which I hope will be a plus as well. Some of the works we'll cover I've done in other podcasts (King Lear, Paradise Lost, but those are always different in different contexts and classes. And context, or the suppression of context, turns out from the first class to be partly what the course is about. In this first class you get to hear me recite "Jabberwocky" from memory, which I wasn't expecting to do, and then we discuss a wonderful song of Ben Jonson's and Yeats's "Circus Animal's Desertion."
Here is the syllabus, plus the "bunch of poems" that we are starting out with:
Introduction to Literary Studies
W Jan 13 Introduction
via a bunch of poems
Th Jan 15 Introduction con’t; opening of Shakespeare’s
M Jan 18: NO CLASS
W Jan 20 King Lear
Th Jan 21 King Lear
M Jan 25 King Lear, Aristotle: Poetics,
Dr. Johnson, Freud: “The theme
of the three caskets”
W Jan 27 Milton: Paradise Lost
Th Jan 28 Milton: Paradise Lost
M Feb 1 Milton: Paradise Lost
W Feb 3 Milton: Paradise Lost
Th Feb 4 Milton: Paradise Lost
M Feb 8 Milton: Paradise Lost
W Feb 10 Milton: Paradise Lost
Th Feb 11 Milton: Paradise Lost
Feb 15-19: NO
M Feb 22 Milton: Paradise Lost First paper due
W Feb 24 Pope: “Rape of the Lock”
Th Feb 25 English Romanticism (Blake,
Coleridge, Byron, Shelley,
Wordsworth: Preface to Lyrical Ballads
M Feb 29 English Romanticism
W Mar 2 English Romanticism
Th Mar 3 English Romanticism
M Mar 7 English Romanticism
W Mar 9 Brontë: Jane Eyre
Th Mar 10 Brontë: Jane Eyre
M Mar 14 Brontë: Jane Eyre
W Mar 16 James: The Aspern Papers
Th Mar 17 James: The Aspern Papers
M Mar 21 Joyce:
“The Dead” L
W Mar 23 Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway L
Th Mar 24 Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway
M Mar 28 NO CLASS
W Mar 30 American romanticism
(Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson) Second
Th Mar 31 American romanticism
M Apr 4 Ellison: Invisible Man , DuBois: “On
the Training of Black Men” L
W Apr 6 Ellison: Invisible Man
Th Apr 7 Ellison: Invisible Man
M Apr 11 Beckett: Waiting for Godot
W Apr 13 Beckett: Waiting for Godot
Th Apr 14 O’Connor: The Violent Bear it Away
M Apr 18 OConnor: The Violent Bear it Away
W Apr 20 Ford: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance L
Th Apr 21 NO CLASS
Apr. 25-29 NO
M May 2 Soyinka: Death and The King’s Horseman Final paper due
[So beauty on the waters stood]
Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
So beauty on the waters stood,
When love had sever’d earth from flood!
So when he parted air from fire,
He did with concord all inspire!
And them a motion he them taught,
That elder than himself was thought.
Which thought was, yet, the child of earth,
For Love is elder than his birth.
The Circus Animals’ Desertion
By William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.
What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.
And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen' was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.
And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.
Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
[They flee from me]
By Sir Thomas Wyatt
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”
It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.
Complaint Of The Absence Of Her Lover
Being Upon The Sea
By Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516/17-1547)
O HAPPY dames that may embrace
The fruit of your delight ;
Help to bewail the woful case,
And eke the heavy plight,
Of me, that wonted to rejoice
The fortune of my pleasant choice :
Good ladies ! help to fill my mourning voice.
In ship freight with rememberance
Of thoughts and pleasures past,
He sails that hath in governance
My life while it will last ;
With scalding sighs, for lack of gale,
Furthering his hope, that is his sail,
Toward me, the sweet port of his avail.
Alas ! how oft in dreams I see
Those eyes that were my food ;
Which sometime so delighted me,
That yet they do me good :
Wherewith I wake with his return,
Whose absent flame did make me burn :
But when I find the lack, Lord ! how I mourn.
When other lovers in arms across,
Rejoice their chief delight ;
Drowned in tears, to mourn my loss,
I stand the bitter night
In my window, where I may see
Before the winds how the clouds flee :
Lo ! what a mariner love hath made me.
And in green waves when the salt flood
Doth rise by rage of wind ;
A thousand fancies in that mood
Assail my restless mind.
Alas ! now drencheth1 my sweet foe,
That with the spoil of my heart did go,
And left me ; but, alas ! why did he so ?
And when the seas wax calm again,
To chase from me annoy,
My doubtful hope doth cause me plain ;
So dread cuts off my joy.
Thus is my wealth mingled with woe :
And of each thought a doubt doth grow ;
Now he comes ! will he come ? alas ! no, no!
The Burning Babe
By Robert Southwell, SJ
As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his
tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth he, “but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt
into a bath to wash them in my blood.”
With this he
vanish’d out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I
called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
By George Herbert (1593–1633)
Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.
By Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835)
THE boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but him had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.
Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.
The flames rolled on -- he would not go
Without his father's word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.
He called aloud -- "Say, father, say,
If yet my task is done?"
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.
"Speak, father!" once again he cried,
"If I may yet be gone!"
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames rolled on.
Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death
In still, yet brave despair.
And shouted but once more aloud,
"My father! must I stay?"
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
The wreathing fires made way.
They wrapt the ship in splendor wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And streamed above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.
There came a burst of thunder sound--
The boy -- oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea!--
With mast, and helm, and pennon fair
That well had borne their part--
But the noblest thing that perished there
Was that young, faithful heart.
By Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite "The boy stood on
the burning deck." Love's the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.
Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love's the burning boy.