Taught by William Flesch at Brandeis University, this course offers a survey of poetry that’s out of favor. But it turns out to be among the most skillful, brilliant, witty, invigorating, funny, sometimes dirty poetry ever written. (The dirty poetry is definitely NSFW. It may not even be safe for consenting adults.) Coverage goes from the urbane civic poetry of Dryden and his contemporaries to the beginnings of the intense subjectivity of Romanticism, with attention to the continuities between these wildly different schools. It’s helpful to have a complete Pope and the Penguin Dryden. We also use the Oxford Anthology of English Literature, ed. Martin Price.
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Taught by William Flesch at Brandeis University, Spenser and Milton are the two greatest non-dramatic English poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and they even rival Shakespeare. Shakespeare read (and adopted) Spenser; Milton read and used Spenser as a way to think about poetic, aesthetic, religious and political issues in a non-Shakespearean way. This course covers all of Spenser’s great allegorical poem The Faerie Queene, and all of Milton’s major poetry, including Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Any complete editions of Spenser and Milton will suffice.
This is a course on Shakespeare’s career, given at Brandeis University in the spring of 2010, by William Flesch. It covers several representative plays from all four genres: comedy, tragedy, history, and romance. We consider both the similarities and differences among those genres, and how his more and more radical experimentations in genre reflect his developing thought, about theater, about time, about life, over the course of his career. In terms of texts, any complete Shakespeare will suffice, including this free version online from MIT. The Norton Shakespeare, edited by Stephen Greenblatt, is also recommended.
Taught by William Flesch at Brandeis University, this course offers a survey of some of the greatest and most influential works on Western literature, philosophy and culture, from Homer through Milton. Part of the through line is that every writer covered in the course wrote in a context inherited from the earlier ones, so we look at affiliations between them all. The course used the Lattimore translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and the Hollander translations of Dante. For the other works, any translation or edition is fine.