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The sonnet is the most enduring prescribed form in English poetry.  No other poetic form with a rigid, predetermined structure—not the sestina nor even the limerick— has such a rich literary history, spanning nearly 500 years in English and consistently capturing the imagination of writers and readers alike.  This course asks: Why and how does the sonnet form endure? And what role does the speaking subject, the “I” who emerges in the sonnet, play in this endurance? We will engage in a survey and investigation of the means and motives of sonneteering from 13th-Century Italian word games through 21st-Century java script sonnet generators. The central critical focus of this course will be on the lyric persona produced by sonnet culture, the extra-generic character known as the “sonneteer.”

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