Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG486H1S - L0201

ENG486H1S  L0201   W2-4
Shakespeae's Sonnets
Professor Lynne Magnusson


Brief Description of Course: The restricted focus on Shakespeare’s Sonnets will allow us to develop a wide range of critical and methodological lenses for reading these influential poems. The sonnets afford an outstanding opportunity to interrogate close reading as integral to the discipline of literary studies today. To this end, the course compares and critiques existing critical commentaries; it also adapts interpretive methods from such areas as the new formalism and cultural poetics, rhetoric and discourse analysis, affect theory and cognitive studies, historical pragmatics and sociolinguistics. The seminar work will combine close reading with a research-oriented exploration of the sonnets’ contexts, sources, and intertexts; print and manuscript transmission; and reception history, including rewritings, appropriations, and adaptation. For shaping influences, we may look not only at the sonnet tradition but also at early modern speech genres and cultural formations such as service, patronage and usury; at humanist education and pedagogical materials; and at pertinent situations and resonant relationships developed in parallel in Shakespeare’s plays. Students can also try out the fresh possibilities offered by computer technology for “distant” reading using EEBO and digitally assisted text analysis.

Required Reading: Shakespeare’s Sonnets and a wide range of contextual and critical readings.

First Three Authors/Texts: Shakespeare’s Sonnets; The Passionate Pilgrim; reread the sonnets.

Method of Instruction: Seminar.

Method of Evaluation: Well-informed in-class participation, including oral presentation (20%), weekly responses (30%), research presentation and final paper (50%).

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