March 3: The Tempest

Miranda and her father, Prospero, witnessed the storm that caused the shipwreck during Act I, Scene I. Miranda questions her father and accuses him of causing the storm in the ocean.  Why does Prospero start the storm and how is he able to create a storm in the first place?

March 1: Sidney and Personification

In many of his sonnets, Sidney personifies concepts such as “Love,” “Desire,” and “Virtue.” What is the effect of personifying these ideas? Does it emphasize the effects of emotions of the speaker? Does it elevate the importance of the concept to that of a universal truth? Or does it shift the source of the emotions from the speaker to an origin outside of the speaker, reducing him to a more passive role?

February 25th: Sir Thomas Wyatt and his reflections in poetry.


As noted in the introductory materials, Sir Thomas Wyatt experienced a variety of ups and downs in his life from serving as a valued member in King Henry’s court to serving a prison sentence in the Tower of London.  In what ways does his poetry reflect the ups and downs experienced in his life?  Is there a dominant tone in his poetry, or does his poetry reveal some sort of ambivalence consistent with his life’s experiences?

February 25th: Courtly Love and the Early Modern Lyric

Our textbook claims, “The influence of Petrarch’s sonnet sequence, about his unfulfilled love for Laura, was immense, and provided European love poets with a way to shape the erotic experience in terms of frustration, self-scrutiny, self-division, praise, and longing and to express this through elaborate metaphor, paradox, and an intense focus on detail.” How do the tradition of courtly love and the influences of Petrarch present themselves within the early sonnets of Wyatt, Surrey, Daniel, and Drayton? In other words, how do these poets portray love and the idea of courtship? How are their portrayals similar to or different from Petrarch’s?

Feb 18: The Second Shepherd’s Play

Throughout the play, the “Wakefield Master” uses many anachronisms, or attributes belonging to a period other than that in which it is currently being employed. For example, the second shepherd refers to “him that died for us all,” and the first shepherd makes note of “the rood” (107, 185). What is the purpose of making these conspicuous references? How do they relate to the contrast between the absurdly comedic beginning of the story versus the traditional, biblical ending of the play describing when they first see Christ?

February 16: Margery Kempe’s Book 1

Margery’s writing reveals how spirituality is centered in her life. What do you find to be significant about her and her work? How does she make her spiritual experiences physical and make her physical experiences spiritual? She seems to often suffer for Christ; what is Margery’s relationship with suffering (whether it be her own or her views on the suffering of others)?