English Literature 1 LM (2009/2010)

Course partially running (all years except the first)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Silvia Bigliazzi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre dal Oct 1, 2009 al Jan 16, 2010.

Lesson timetable

I semestre
Day Time Type Place Note
Tuesday 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM lesson Lecture Hall 2.6  
Wednesday 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM lesson Lecture Hall T.10  
Thursday 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM lesson Lecture Hall S.11  

Learning outcomes

The module aims at offering a specialist discussion of late sixteenth- and early seventeeth- century poetry through a critical analysis of different lyrical genres and of the formal, contextual and theoretical issues at stake.


“From lyrical convention to contextual implicitness: English Renaissance poetical ambiguities”

The module will tackle the topic of late sixteenth- and early seventeeth- century amorous, satirical and epistolary poetry with the aim of defining the role of inter-textuality, inter-discursiveness and contextual intentionality. Some of the most significant examples of these lyrical genres will be examined in order to focus their mutual contaminatio, as well as the gradual establishing of the sonnet as a English form out of the Italian tradition. The relation between explicitness and implicitness will be highlighted with the aim of testing the role of interpretation in the reading of highly ambiguous texts, whose manuscript circulation was mostly circumscribed to a coterie of friends or to actual or prospective patrons. The module will be set up into lectures (24h = 4CFU) and a seminar (24h = 4CFU) intended to further the discussion of the syllabus and to apply to textual analysis the critical tools presented during the classes. Non-attending students are required to follow the primary text and reference lists recommended to attending students and to complement it with the supplementary reference list.

LANGUAGE: the module will be held in English.


Primary Texts:

• William Shakespeare, Sonetti, a cura di Alessandro Serpieri, Milano, Rizzoli, 1991 (or following): “Introduzione” and sonnets 20, 40-43, 104, 107, 124, 133-134, 144, 146;
• John Donne, Poesie, a cura di Alessandro Serpieri e Silvia Bigliazzi, Milano, Rizzoli, 2009: “Introduzione”; from Elegies: IV. The Perfume, V. His Picture, VIII. The Comparison,, X. The Dreame, XV. The Expostulation; XVI. On his Mistris; from Satyres: I; from Verse Letters: To Sir Henry Wotton (“Here’s no more newes, than vertues”), To Sir Henry Wotton (Sir, more than kisses, letters mingle Soules); To the Countesse of Bedford (“You have refin’d me”), To the Countesse of Bedford (“Honour is so sublime perfection”), To the Countesse of Bedford. On New-yeares day.

• During classes students will be provided with a handout with the following texts:

• Sir Thomas Wyatt’s and Herny Howard, Earl of Surrey’s versions of Petrarch’s sonnet 140 (“Amor, che nel penser mio vive et regna”);
• Philip Sidney, from Astrophel and Stella (1591), sonnets 1, 3, 6, 15, 69, 70, 71, 72, 79, 80, 81;
• Michael Drayton, from Ideas Mirror (1594), “Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part”;
• Edmund Spenser, from Amoretti (1595): 7, 10, 37, 41, 54.


• Paul Edmonson and Stanley Wells, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004
• Achsah Guibbory (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne, ed. by, Cambridge, Cambridge, University Press, 2006: Ted-Larry Pebworth, “The Text of Donne’s Writings”, in, pp. 23-34; Arthur F. Marotti, “Literary context and nature of Donne’s writing: occasional verse and letters”, pp. 35-48; Achsah Guibbory, “Erotic Poetry”, pp.133-147; Lynne Magnusson, “Donne’s Language: the Conditions of Communication”, pp. 183-200;
• Ted-Larry Pebworth and Claude J. Summers, “Thus Friends Absent Speak: The Exchange of Verse Letters between John Donne and Henry Wotton”, Modern Philology, Vol. 81, No. 4 (May, 1984), pp. 361-377;
• David Aers and Gunther Kress, “‘Darke Texts Need Notes’: Versions of the Self in Donne’s Verse Epistles”, in Literature Language and Society in England, 1580-1680 (1980), rpt in John Donne’s Poetry, ed. by Arthur L. Clements, New York – London, Norton, 19922, pp. 255-270;
• W. Webster Newbold, “Letter Writing and Vernacular Literacy in Sixteenth-Century England”, in Carol Poster, Linda C. Mitchell, Letter-Writing manuals and instruction from antiquity to the present, Columbia, The University of South Carolina Press, 2007, pp. 127-40;
• Barbara K. Lewalski (ed.), Renaissance Genres: Essays on Theory, History, and Interpretation, Cambridge, MA. – London, Harvard University Press, 1986: Claudio Guillén, “Notes Towards the Study of the Renaissance Letter”, pp. 70-101; James S. Baumlin, “Generic Contexts of Elizabethan Satire: Rhetoric, Poetic Theory, and Imitation”, pp. 444-467.

Supplementary references for non-attending students

• J.W. Lever, The Elizabethan Love Sonnet, London, Methuen, (1956) 1966
• J.B. Leishman, The Monarch of Wit, London, Hutchinson, 1962

Please be advised

Further details on required readings and general information on bibliographical material will be provided during classes.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam will consist in an oral discussion of the module’s topics in English. Students attending the seminar may also take in progress written tests.
Non-attending students will take an oral exam only.