Bad Romance: Shakespeare’s Poetry (LIT4380.01)

Camille Guthrie

We will immerse ourselves in reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets and his Neoclassical poem, Venus and Adonis. Shakespeare invented his own style of the sonnet, now called the English sonnet. The word sonnet comes from the Italian sonetto, which means “a little sound or song”; it was a poetic form originally popularized by Petrarch in the 14th century. In the 154 sonnets, first published in 1609, Shakespeare dazzles us with his lexical, semantic, aural, syntactic, and rhetorical virtuosity. Despite this poetic brilliance, the poet was not immune to a bad romance. As we expand our understanding of Shakespeare’s themes, narrative strategies, poetic innovations, we will examine the critical reception of these works, including biographical, Feminist, Queer Theory, and Post-structural approaches. Our most pressing objective is to become more agile, precise, and imaginative close readers of—and writers about—Shakespeare’s poetry.


Learning Outcomes:
• Improve your ability to read and analyze sonnets, Shakespeare’s poetry in particular, and critical theory relevant to studying Shakespeare
• Learn about and practice grammar, revision, and research and citation skills
• Write in various styles, including critical explications, creative responses, personal reflections, and longer, revised critical essays with research
• Develop a persuasive, well-supported thesis statement
• Use the resources, including the databases, in Crossett Library
• Work collaboratively with your colleagues to revise and edit your writing
• Try new and productive habits of reading and writing



Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: Interested students should submit a critical writing sample (5 pp.) via this form by May 9, 2024. Admitted students will be notified by email on May 14, 2024.
Corequisites: Students in this class are required to attend Literature evenings on most Wednesday nights, including Poetry at Bennington.
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
M/Th 10:00AM - 11:50AM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , Literature
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