Department of English

"Love's Martyr: The Heresay of John Donne's 'Songs and Sonnets'"

An Odyssey Course event with Gregory Chaplin

Thu, October 8, 2009 | Thompson Conference Center

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Born into a devout Roman Catholic family that held onto to its prohibited faith despite official persecution, John Donne (1572-1631) struggled to advance himself in the Protestant social order of early modern England. Just at the moment when he had established a promising future, he threw it away for love, running off with the seventeen-year-old niece of his employer, the powerful Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. Composed during this period, his remarkable Songs and Sonnets sparked a poetic revolution: his contemporaries recognized that by casting aside “the lazy seeds of servile imitation” and planting “fresh invention,” he charted a new direction in English poetry. This talk will examine how Donne’s love poems fuse his Catholic heritage with the radical religious impulses of his time to devise a religion of love that allows him to recast the devastating social exile initiated by his secret marriage into a triumph.

Recommended reading: John Donne, selected poems

GREGORY CHAPLIN is an Assistant Professor of British literature at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and the co-editor of The Norton Critical Edition of Seventeenth-Century British Poetry.

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