English 9191B

Donne and Sidney

Instructor: Professor J. Leonard.
Winter Half Course.

This course will examine John Donne's poetry, both erotic and devotional, in relation to Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella and Defence of Poesy. It is not customary to connect these two poets. Sidney is traditionally aligned with Spenser, who is usually seen as Donne's opposite. Donne is traditionally seen as a "metaphysical" poet, but that term was not applied to him until long after his death and he did not see himself as the founder of any kind of "school" of poets. Donne may have placed a new emphasis on "wit," but many of the features of his verse that seem "metaphysical" to us have recognizable precedents and parallels in Sidney's poetry, both the sonnets and songs of Astrophil and Stella. This course will explore some of these connections with a view to challenging received ideas about both these great poets, who gain from being read alongside each other.