ENGL6246Beauty in Early Modern English Literature3 ch
This course will focus on literary (as well as cultural, visual, and historical) texts that point to the practices, philosophical underpinnings, and politics of male and female beauty. Aemelia Lanyer, for example, declared in her 1611 work Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum that “That outward Beautie which the world commends, is not the subject I will write upon”, yet, even as states her refusal to represent women in the conventional terms of beauty, she goes on to depict Christ in the Petrarchan terms she had previously eschewed. We will begin with texts that work with these Petrarchan and neoplatonic notions of beauty, focusing particularly on English sonnets. Here the discussion will be keyed to the terms and import of male and female beauty and the relationship between poets and their subjects. Especially vital will be questions of gender: what, for example, was the relationship between beauty and the authority of the woman writer?