Topics in Comparative Literature


What do the ancient poems of Sappho and odes of Horace, the sonnets of Petrarch and Shakespeare, the pop songs of Taylor Swift, and the raps of Kendrick Lamar have in common? They all are or have lyrics. An analysis of the changing meanings attached to that word will orient our study of the lyric genre across European and American poetic cultures. We will begin in Greece and Rome and pursue the rise of the lyric to its current and contested status. Most of our time will be spent paying close attention to poems-reading them aloud, weighing their rhythmic and linguistic choices, savoring their dexterity. But we will also consider the cultural and historical contexts in which the lyric has evolved, tracing the development of specific poetic forms (not least the sonnet) and focusing on several themes (including persona and personhood, entanglements of the political and the erotic, and the evolving meaning of music in and for lyric). Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to find and analyze lyrics "in the wild"-on Spotify, in magazines, and in public spaces-and we will work on identifying and completing a research project in this rich and rewarding field of literary inquiry. No prerequisites.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; AS SD I; FA HUM; AR HUM

Section 01

Topics in Comparative Literature
INSTRUCTOR: Purchase, Mouw
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