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ENGLISH 5M: WISE: Sonnets, Shakespeare to Now

Invented in Sicily in the thirteenth century and imported into England in the sixteenth, the sonnet is one of the most recognizable poetic forms in English. Why does this form continue to appeal to poets throughout the centuries? How does it develop and remain relevant? What changes, what stays the same? In this course, we will study the history of the sonnet in English: its beginnings in the Renaissance, its evolution in the seventeenth century, its Romantic revival, its modern adaptations, and its contemporary proliferation. Exploring the form's remarkable adaptability, we will read sonnets about love, about loss, about spiritual longing, and about social critique. We will look at sonnets about sonnets, sonnets against sonnets, sonnets that pretend they are not sonnets, and sonnets that engage with other forms. Over the quarter, as we trace the sonnet's many transformations, we will explore how its formal and rhetorical traits align (or misalign) with particular ways of thinking and feeling. (Note: This Writing-Intensive Seminar in English (WISE) course fulfills WIM for English majors. Non-majors are welcome, space permitting. For enrollment permission contact vbeebe@stanford.edu.)
Terms: Spr | Units: 5
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