Late Renaissance and Restoration Poetry

My students in British Literature and Composition have just begun a unit on late Renaissance/Restoration poetry.  We will read the following writers:

  • John Donne
  • Ben Jonson
  • Andrew Marvell
  • Robert Herrick
  • Sir John Suckling
  • John Milton

Afterward, students will explicate a poem, something I was not asked to do until I was a freshman and college.  When I told our AP Literature teacher (who also often teaches juniors and seniors), he seemed thrilled to learn I was going to try explication, and he gave some good things to peruse and think about.  Meanwhile, to get my students started, I am using Lisa Huff’s TPCASTT method for analyzing poetry, and the students have responded positively to the deep reading, even if they haven’t necessarily “liked” the poem.  It’s hard to get past “do you like this poem or not and why” with some students, and this graphic organizer really helps.  At any rate, I’m really encouraged by the positive comments the students are making about the material on the classroom blog.

Through the English Companion Ning, I became aware of an excellent podcast of a BBC program called In Our Time.  I listened to and shared the episode concerning the Metaphysical Poets with my students, and I’m crossing my fingers they will listen to it.  I think it will really help them understand especially John Donne, whom I find to be a challenging writer.

Speaking of the Ning, I have not contributed as much as I need to because I have not had time to keep up with the conversations going on.  I’m going to try Steve Shann’s suggestion of setting up Pageflakes to keep track of the Ning.  I am finding it a challenge to balance teaching with grad school and home life this semester.  This weekend in particular looks like one long, bleak work session to me (I am just on a short break, I promise), and it depresses me not to be able to read for pleasure, particularly after Matthew Pearl sent me a galley copy of The Last Dickens that I’m itching to start.

6 thoughts on “Late Renaissance and Restoration Poetry”

  1. It is nice to see people using the TPCASTT model. Last year when I student taught at the high school level, I used it except we added a Y before the P (for your dictionary )to look up words we were unfamiliar with. The students really enjoyed it. Their project that unit was to present their TYPCASTT of a poem of their choosing to the whole class.

    I'm actually starting a poetry unit this week with my 7th graders and I'm hoping to introduce them to the model and see how much I can show them in terms of analyzing poetry.

    I'll be sure to check back in to see how the unit goes!

  2. Ah, my favorite period of all BritLit, especially Donne. Throw in “The Lie” by Sir Walter Raleigh. It’s a gem of damning social commentary by the embittered explorer, and simply my favorite poem of all.

    I never heard the term “explicating” a poem before, but if it means word-by-word, line-by-line deconstruction of meaning, then that’s what I did best once upon a time in college. Ah, to just be a student myself again…

    1. Explication is indeed what you refer to as word-by-word, line-by-line deconstruction of meaning. I never had to do it until college, and I actually think my students will enjoy the intellectual exercise.

  3. So glad you like In Our Time! This week's podcast is on The Waste Land and modernity.

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