Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Planning a Class - Brainstorming the 17th Century

A quick note: I really appreciate the feedback people have been giving me on the brainstorming stuff so far. Thank you.

Just so you recall, here's the course description: Covers prose, poetry and drama of the post-Renaissance period through the Restoration with special focus on works of John Milton.

James I - selection from Basilicon Doron - 1 hr

Shakespeare, Lear, 3 hrs

Donne - 3 hrs

Herbert - 2 hrs

Herrick -2 hr

Marvell - 3 hrs

Bacon -2 hrs

Hobbes - 2 hrs

News - Charles I trial, execution - 2 hrs

Hutchinson, from Memoirs - 1 hr

Halkett - from Memoirs - 1 hr

Cavendish - 1 hr

Behn - Oroonoko - 3 hrs

Behn - The Rover - 3 hrs

Milton - from Areopagitica - 2 hrs

Milton - "Lycidas" - 2 hrs

Milton - sonnets - 1 hr

34 hrs so far

Milton, PL - Bk 1 - 3 hrs

Milton, PL - Bk 2 - 3 hrs

Total - 40 hours

This is brainstorming, as you can see. I haven't been as detailed with the verse and such as I was with the previous class, because I'm waiting to hear from some friends for lunch.

Once again, what do you think? Are there things I should totally add? Something I'm so missing that it's unforgiveable?

Is there something I should drop because it sucks?

I'm at about 40 hours, so for anything I add, I need to drop or cut something.


  1. The first time I taught Paradise Lost, I only taught Books One and Two, but then I realized that if I didn't do Book Three, we would never make it from Hell to Heaven. Although like Books 1 and 2 better than Book 3, I find that our discussion seems more full if we can compare the consort in Hell with the consort in Heaven. Maybe in order to make room for Book 3, you could smush Herrick and Marvell together? Just a thought. Thanks for letting us chime it. Such fun to think about--like making a Christmas list!

  2. Also, regarding you earlier comment about Swift and Modest Proposal, many students have read it but certainly not all. This semester we read excerpts from Gulliver's Travels. We also read Swift's poem "The Lady's Dressing Room" along with Lady Montagu's response poem. Fun stuff.

  3. I agree with Good Enough Woman. Books 1 and 2 of PL are wonderful, but it is so hard to stop there! My focus is on the humans, though, rather than Heaven. In a survey I do Books 1-2, brief selections of 4 and 8 (primarily the contrasting birth narratives of Adam and Eve, but also the dialogue about sex between Raphael and Adam) and then book 9. This does take 6-7 hours, however. I don't do the sonnets or Lycidas, because I like to have students spend more time on a single text. I do a very brief excerpt from Aeropagitica as part of my introductory lecture, but I don't really expect the students to read it.

  4. I also do 1 and 2, and then selections from 4 and 8. I think I spend three discussion days on it. If it were me, I'd buy room by smooshing not Herrick and Marvell together, because Marvell's really hard and my students need a more patient approach to him, but Hutchinson and Halkett as a set of contrasting viewpoints.

  5. Agree with Travelia on what PL to read. I'd also cut Lycidas and the sonnets to make room. Why not teach Marvell closer to Milton? That would make more sense in terms of political context. Radical thought: cut Herrick altogether and move Marvell. The garden poems and "To His Coy Mistress" make interesting contrasts to PL, and the fact that Marvell saved Milton's head makes it all the more interesting. Curious about the absence of Jonson. This is all just opinion and conjecture--you should do what you're happy with! Thanks for letting us weigh in.

  6. Ooops! Poor Jonson! Thanks for catching that for me :)

    I can't cut Herrick. I love Herrick's sense of humor.

    Thanks for the help, all. It's so helpful having feedback!