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The Modern Sonnet

Class at Faculty of Arts |


The course will be run on Google Classroom. This is a platform for sharing materials.

Most of our classes will be in person. After signing up for this, students will receive an invitation code to the class, where they'll find a detailed syllabus.


The sonnet is one of the central forms of European and anglophone poetic traditions. Many of the greatest poets have written them – Edmund Spenser, Joachim du Bellay, Alexander Pushkin, Petrarch, Dante, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and of course William Shakespeare.

Often it stands in for the whole tradition, an icon for iconoclasts to smash, as though to write one now is somehow retrograde, nostalgic, bespeaking an inability to look contempary times straight in the face. Yet it is only a little song, a small patterned box of around 140 syllables.

Can it take the pressure? Is it still alive? Does it sing? This course will look at range of anglophone sonnets from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and also locate these in broader critical arguments concerning poetics. Maurice Scully, Wanda Coleman, Elizabeth Bishop, A.

D. Hope, A.

E. Stallings, Ernest Hilbert, Paul Muldoon, Marilyn Hacker, Gwen Harwood, and Ted Berrigan some of the poets we’ll consider.

And of course you’ll also have to write a sonnet.

Study programmes