Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Closing Discussion

Ask yourself this: what seems to be the defining conceptual conflict of seventeenth-century literary culture?

Think hard and think creatively. A conflict of this sort can take many forms. It could be a conflict between body and soul, for example, or individuality and collectivity, or freedom and obedience, or tradition and innovation.

This question should form the substance of our final conversation.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Week 15 and "Paradise Lost"

A quick note about the reading for the last week of class. On the syllabus, it specifies only that it's the second session on Milton's Paradise Lost. I've decided to do books 3-4 for that week. (The previous week, as indicated, please read books 1-2.) Thanks!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Research Paper: Guidelines, Expectations, Topics

Due: Friday, May 27 (By email:
Length: 3,000 words (approx.)

The major assignment of the course, the Research Paper should tackle a significant question and demonstrate: 

(1) that you have read relevant primary literary texts very closely.
(2) that you know how to advance a compelling argument and support it with evidence.
(3) that you know how to position that argument in relation to the ideas of other critics.
(4) that you know how to analyze literary texts in a way that is responsive to cultural and historical context. 
(5) your research paper is also expected to be free from basic problems of grammar and spelling.

You may choose to write on any topic that relates to our course material this semester. If you don't already have something in mind, below are some (very) broad areas of inquiry to help you start thinking. Also, don't forget the bibliography and links to primary-historical research tools that I posted in the first weeks of the semester. You may find that useful, as well.

The role of print (focusing on any author or two authors or any social or political context)

The relationship between praise and critique 

Effects of, and experiments with, genre

An author (or two authors) vis-a-vis a particular political event

Versions of political community

Versions of religious community

Doubt and belief

The nature of religious experience        

Women's writing (in terms of rhetoric, print, publicity/privacy, etc)

Poetry and female communit  

Poetry and the court (James's or Charles's)

Representing Cromwell 

Cavalier poetry

Milton in literary-historical context

Milton and Marvell

Donne and Herbert

Materiality, Ecology, Selfhood, Community (a cluster of ideas that can be dealt with in many ways) 

Community and the Country House poem (Jonson and Marvell) 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

English Poetry, Jonson to Marvell

We have a lot on our plates tomorrow Marvell-wise, but tomorrow is also the last day of what has essentially been a  9-week overview of 17th-century poetry. So take a moment to reflect on where what we've read and discussed so far and try to develop some general ideas about this body of writing.

Are there any central conflicts, struggles, or preoccupations that seem to hold this diverse group of poems together as a coherent group?

What are the primary conversations taking place in seventeenth century poetry? 

If you were to tell a little two-minute story about 17th-century English poetry (if, say, someone were to put you on the spot and force you to), what would it sound like?

Interregnum, 1649-1660

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sir John Suckling and Richard Lovelace

Sir John Suckling, by Anthony Van Dyck (1637-38), and Richard Lovelace, attributed to William Dobson (1645).

"Charles I and the Duke of York," Peter Lely (1647)

King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria

All of these paintings were executed by the great Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck between 1632, when he was appointed Principal Painter to Charles I, and 1635.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Two Broad Questions

Hello again. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's chat about Aemilia Lanyer and Lady Mary Wroth. I'll be concluding the session with two broad questions and I thought I'd stick them up here in advance.

(1) Like Jonson, Lanyer is invested in community-making through literary production. Like Donne, she engages actively with religion and scripture. So what makes her version of these undertakings different?

(2) Taking Lanyer and Wroth as case studies, how does attending to women's writing enrich, complicate, or challenge the way we understand seventeenth-century English literary culture?

Selections from Cavalier Poets, for next Wednesday, April 13

Robert Herrick, "The Hock-Cart"
Thomas Carew, "The Rapture"
Sir John Suckling, "A Ballad Upon a Wedding," "The Constant Lover," "A Candle"
Richard Lovelace, "To Lucasta, Going to the Wars," "To Lucasta. From Prison," "To My Worthy Friend Mr. Peter Lilly," "The Ant"

Trust me, this is great stuff. Give it a chance. Be sure to make use of the DNB so you can put together a bit of a context. And, of course, our discussions in class will help, too.

Early Modern Women Writers: Aemilia Lanyer and Lady Mary Wroth

Here's a link the to a copy of Aemilia Lanyer's Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (London, 1611). We'll talk about it.

Here's the frontispiece to Lady Mary Wroth's The Countesse of Mountgomeries Urania (London, 1621). For the full text on EEBO, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Donne's "Holy Sonnets"

Hello, all! In class, we'll be discussing some items from "Songs and Sonnets" and "Holy Sonnets." In the case of the latter, I already know what I want to talk about, so start thinking about the following in advance.

(1) First of all, what, according to you, is the central issue or question being struggled with in Donne's Holy Sonnets? Is this struggle strictly religious/spiritual?

Towards the end of the class session I will elicit from you some broad, final comments on Donne's poetry. For example:

(2) In what ways is Donne's voice and imagination singular? That is, what does he seem to be doing that other writers aren't?

(3) On the other hand, in what ways is Donne very much of his time and part of his culture?

(4) Finally, what does Donne teach us about the relationship between religion and eroticism or imagination and faith?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jonson: "Inviting a Friend to Supper" and "To Penshurst"

 Sir Philip Sidney at Penshurst (miniature by Isaac Oliver)

I realize that some of you won't see this before we meet for class. That's fine--hopefully some of you will. I really just want to get some thoughts down. As I re-read these two wonderful poems, I'm struck by the fact that they seem to have some core attributes, some essential imaginative and functional qualities, in common with the epistolary epigrams that were also among your assigned reading in the anthology.

At the same time, there are important differences between these two poems and the epigrams. For example, there seems to me to be some conceptual keywords that are significant in "Inviting a Friend to Supper" and "To Penshurst" which we don't encounter in the epigrams. These include "place," "hospitality," "environment," "practice," and "nature/culture." You may be thinking of others, too--if so, I'd love to hear about them. At any rate, mull this over.

One more thing. In each of these poems, the last line contains a single word that strikes me as difficult, multifaceted, and very consequential to the poem overall. Here they are:

"Inviting a Friend to Supper": "liberty"

"To Penshurst": "dwells"

Let's make sure we talk about those words at some on Wednesday morning.

Ben Jonson

View The Workes of Benjamin Jonson (London, 1616) on EEBO here.

Also, check out the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online here.

The Jacobean Court

 James I, from 1616 "Workes" frontispiece

 James I and Family

 Queen Anna

 Princess Elizabeth and Frederick the Elector Palatine

 Prince Henry

King Charles I

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Select Bibliography, Literary and Historical

Barroll, Leeds. “The Court of the First Stuart Queen.” In The Mental World of the Jacobean Court, edited by Linda Levy Peck, 191-208. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
______. Anna of Denmark, Queen of England: A Cultural Biography. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001.
Bellany, Alastair. “ ‘Raylinge Rymes and Vaunting Verse’: Libellous Politics in Early Stuart England.” In Culture and Politics in Early Stuart England, edited by Kevin Sharpe and Peter Lake, 285-310. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1994.
Bradshaw, Brendan, and John Morrill, eds. The British Problem, c.1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 1996.
Brown, Keith M. “The Scottish Aristocracy, Anglicization, and the Court 1603-38.” The Historical Journal 36 (1993): 543-76.
Butler, Martin. The Stuart Court Masque and Political Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Corns, Thomas. Uncloistered Virtue: English Political Literature, 1640-1660. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992.
Croft, Pauline. King James. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003.
Cruickshanks, Eveline, ed. The Stuart Courts. Stroud: Sutton, 2000.
Cuddy, Neil. “The Revival of the Entourage: The Bedchamber of James I, 1603-25.” In The English Court from the War of the Roses to the Civil War, edited by David Starkey et al., 173-225. Harlow: Longman, 1987.
______. “Anglo-Scottish Union and the Court of James I, 1603-25.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th  ser, 39 (1989):107-24.
Chalmers, Hero. Royalist Women Writers, 1650-1689. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Clarke, Danielle. The Politics of Early Modern Women’s Writing. London: Longman, 2001.
Curran, Kevin. Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009.
Fischlin, Daniel, and Mark Fortier, eds. Royal Subjects: Essays on the Writings of James VI and I. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002.
Galloway, Bruce. The Union of England and Scotland 1603–1608. Edinburgh: John Donald, 1986.
Garrison, James D. Dryden and the Tradition of Panegyric. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
Goldberg, Jonathan. James I and the Politics of Literature: Jonson, Shakespeare, Donne, and Their Contemporaries. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.
Hammill, Graham. The Mosaic Constitution: Political Theology and Imagination from Machiavelli to Milton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
Kahn, Victoria. Wayward Contracts: The Crisis of Political Obligation in England, 1640-1674. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.
Knoppers, Laura. Constructing Cromwell: Ceremony, Portrait, and Print, 1645-1661. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
–––––. Politicizing Domesticity from Henrietta Maria to Milton’s Eve. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 
Levack, Brian P. The Formation of the British State: England, Scotland, and the Union 1603 – 1707. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Lockyer, Roger. The Early Stuarts: A Political History of England, 1603-42. Harlow: Longman, 1989.
Lowenstein, David. Representing Revolution in Milton and his Contemporaries: Religion, Politics, and Polemics in Radical Puritanism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Maus, Katharine Eisaman. Ben Jonson and the Roman Frame of Mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.
McManus, Clare. Women on the Renaissance Stage: Anna of Denmark and Female Masquing in the Stuart Court, 1590-1619. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002.
McRae, Andrew. “The Literary Culture of Early Stuart Libeling.” Modern Philology 97 (2000): 364-92.
Norbrook, David. Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984.
______. Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric, and Politics, 1627-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Parry, Graham. The Golden Age Restor’d: The Culture of the Stuart Court, 1603-42. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1981.
Patterson, W. B. King James and the Reunion of Christendom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Peck, Linda Levy, ed. The Mental World of the Jacobean Court. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Perry, Curtis. The Making of Jacobean Culture: James I and the Renegotiation of Elizabethan Literary Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Potter, Lois. Secret Rites and Secret Writing: Royalist Literature, 1641-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Salzman, Paul. Reading Early Modern Women’s Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Sauer, Elizabeth. “Paper Contestations” and Textual Communities in England, 1640-1675. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.
Sharpe, Kevin. Criticism and Compliment: The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
–––––. The Personal Rule of Charles I. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992,
–––––. Reading Revolutions: The Politics of Reading in Early Modern England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.
Shuger, Debora. Habits of Thought in the English Renaissance: Religion, Politics, and the Dominant Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.
Smith, Nigel. Literature and Revolution in England, 1640-60. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
–––––. Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.
Strier, Richard. The Unrepentant Renaissance: from Petrarch to Shakespeare to Milton. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.
–––––. Love Known: Theology and Experience in George Herbert’s Poetry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Strong, Roy.  Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance. London: Thames and Hudson, 1986.
Targoff, Ramie. John Donne: Body and Soul. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Worden, Blair. Literature and Politics in Cromwellian England: John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Marchmont Needham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Wormald, Jenny. “James VI and I: Two Kings or One?” History 68 (1983): 187-209.
Zwicker, Steven N. Lines of Authority: Politics and English Literary Culture, 1649-1689. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.

Essential Resources for Primary Historical Research

The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

Early English Books Online (EEBO)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)

Calendars of State Papers (scroll down)

Acts of the Privy Council of England

Please note: the ESTC, the Calendars of State Papers, and the Acts of the Privy Council are freely accessible on the web. EEBO and the DNB, on the other hand, are expensive, subscription-only databases, which, luckily, our library has acquired. This means that in the case of EEBO and the DNB, these links will only work if you're on campus using Unil's network, or, if you're off campus, if you sign into the network. EEBO and the DNB are availble through this library page.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Welcome, everyone, to "Community and Conflict: Literature and Society from Jonson to Milton," an MA seminar at the University of Lausanne. I look forward to working with you over the next several months. You can download a full prospectus and class schedule from Moodle. This blog will be used to post discussion topics, assignment information, and other relevant items, so please bookmark it and check it regularly. In the meantime, here's a course description:

This course guides students through the poetry and prose of seventeenth-century England, a period of unbelievable political upheaval—including two revolutions, a civil war, and the public execution of a monarch—and fascinating intellectual and cultural developments, including an experiment in republicanism, the founding of the Royal Society of London (one of the first learned societies for the study of science), the rise of modern philosophy, and a massive upsurge in women’s writing. Students will become familiar with these and other historical developments as they explore a range of important writers, such as Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, Margaret Cavendish, Andrew Marvell, and John Milton. Central to our discussions will be the way writers imagined new forms of community (religious, legal, ethnic, sexual, and intellectual) in response to the period’s many political and ideological conflicts.