Religious Lyric in Britain

Fall 2016
M 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Area V
Permission Not Required
No Limit to Enrollment
Course Description: 

Survey of the religious lyric in Britain from the seventeenth century (Donne and Herbert) to the present (Michael Symmons Roberts and Malcolm Guite). Poets to be read include those who address God from a standpoint of faith (e.g., Hopkins and R. S. Thomas) and those who do not (e.g., Hardy, Larkin, and Stevie Smith). Working within a British framework, we will trace a literary tradition that has a certain cultural and religious (i.e. Christian) coherence. By choosing lyric poetry we will be looking at short, non-narrative, often emotive work that stresses the speaker’s personal thoughts or feelings. Whereas secular lyric often concentrates on human love, with all its ebb and flow, the religious lyric is concerned with the divine-human relationship—its presence and/or its absence. Our study will mix close textual analysis with attention to larger theological issues.

Background Expected: 

No background expected. That said, students must have adequate skills in English to be able to work with poetry of considerable complexity.

Course Requirements: 

Poetic texts, some secondary reading. Two short (5-page) papers;

One poem written in imitation of one of our poets; One 10-12 page end-of-term paper on a topic of the student’s choice and professor’s approval.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Participation, written work.