Workshop schedule and drafts

November 21, 2006 at 2:40 pm (General)

Some of you have asked whether you can send drafts that are farther along before your workshop — that’s fine with me, and I’ll pass them along via e-mail. I do want whatever you have by the end of today, though (Tuesday) so that I can distribute something to everyone tomorrow, thus maximizing reading time.

Here’s the workshop schedule:

Tuesday 11/28 — Lindsay, Meredith, Susanna

Thursday 11/30 — Daniela, Laura, Jake

Tuesday 12/5 — Matt, Holly, Eric

Thursday 12/7 — Chris, Josh, Aaron

The last, final, ultimate version of your paper is due to me by e-mail on Thursday, December 14.

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Weekly Assignment #11

November 9, 2006 at 11:54 am (Weekly Assignments)

Read these nine Hopkins poems, please: “God’s Grandeur,” “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” “The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo,” “Carrion Comfort,” “No worst, there is none,” “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day,” “Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray,” and “My own heart let me have more pity on.”

And, as usual, and for the last time, please post questions and answers on the usual schedule.

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Weekly Assignment #10

November 6, 2006 at 1:37 pm (Weekly Assignments)

Oops. Sorry for not posting the Swinburne assignment last week. Those of you who have not already posted questions, please do add your comments to this post.

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Harrison commentary on C. Rossetti

November 1, 2006 at 4:35 pm (General)

Tony Harrison has kindly sent me an as-yet unpublished essay of his on Christina Rossetti and illness, which you can read for tomorrow’s class if you have time; I’ve e-mailed it to you. Key sentences from the article:

The fear and sublimation of female sexual desire and insistence upon the dangerous, if not fatal, effects of its indulgence emerges often–metaphorically, if not literally–in much of Rossetti’s poetry.

I have here begun to argue that such extreme sexual Puritanism as we find evidenced in Christina Rossetti’s life and work–the insistence on sublimating sexual passion in the hope of experiencing religious ecstasy–might be understood to emerge from her own experience of adolescent desire, which in the inhospitable climate of mid-Victorian England, surfaced in symptoms doubtless diagnosed by her doctors as ‘hysteria.’

Also, here are some interesting comments on Monna Innominata from Tony’s 1988 work Christina Rossetti in Context (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1988):

The thematic structure of the Monna Innominata is at first difficult to discern, and once perceived, it includes a good deal of repetition and variation. However, like her brother’s House of Life, the structure of this sequence echoes that of the Petrarchan sonnet itself. Four discrete thematic units appear within this ‘sonnet of sonnets,’ or macrosonnet. These roughly correspond to the first and second quatrains of the octave within a Petrarchan sonnet and the two triplets of the sestet. (153)

I haven’t included Tony’s summary of these thematic units: can you take a stab at identifying what these units might be?

As a final gesture, she [Rossetti] abjures even the [sonnet]. Her sequence thus serves to expose the corrupt and fraudulent ideology the form itself has come to represent. … Unlike Rossetti’s sequence, [E. B.] Browning’s [Sonnets from the Portuguese] surrenders entirely to tradition. As all readers of her sonnets are aware, Browning’s speaker repeatedly embraces her subordinate role in the relationship with her beloved. (156)

… Rossetti–the poet behind the fictitious “poetess” of the sonnet sequence–represents herself obliquely as a cultural critic whose special concern is with presently corrupt relations, not only between men and women, but also between love and religion, especially as those relations are expressed in a particular artistic tradition. [Paragraph break] Within the projected action of the sonnets themselves, however, any direct cultural criticism is elided. (157)

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Extra Christina Rossetti poem / Weekly Assignment #9

November 1, 2006 at 3:44 pm (Weekly Assignments)

This is one of my favorite Christina Rossetti poems, but it’s rarely anthologized. It was written in 1862, the year Lizzie Siddal died, so it might be about her; it might also be about Rossetti’s mother. Note the almost militant transfiguration of the “Blessed Damozel” image. Note, too, the unusual rhyme scheme of the sestet and that the volta comes at the twelfth line instead of the ninth.

IN PROGRESS

Ten years ago it seemed impossible
That she could ever grow as calm as this,
With self-remembrance in her warmest kiss
And dim dried eyes like an exhausted well.
Slow-speaking when she has some fact to tell,
Silent with long-unbroken silences,
Centred in self yet not unpleased to please,
Gravely monotonous like a passing bell.
Mindful of drudging daily common things,
Patient at pastime, patient at her work,
Wearied perhaps but strenuous certainly.
Sometimes I fancy we may one day see
Her head shoot forth seven stars from where they lurk
And her eyes lightning and her shoulders wings.

[Added note: Yes — questions and answers appended to this post, please!]

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