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Advanced Study Option: English Renaissance Poetry and Poetics

Taught by Professor Catherine Bates, this module will consider the impact of humanist learning and pedagogic practices, and the consequences these had – intended or otherwise – on the development of English poetry and poetics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will consider ways in which the grammar-school and university education of the period inculcated ideals of literature’s instructional value and moral purpose, while at the same time developing alternative models which prioritised pleasure and beauty, thereby anticipating later developments in aesthetics. Topics to be covered include rhetoric, language, form, wit, and the sublime. Students can get a sense of the content and direction of the module from reading Professor Bates’ most recent book, On Not Defending Poetry: Defence and Indefensibility in Sidney’s ‘Defence of Poesy’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).