I realize that I'll see most of you on Wednesday, November 27, for our final conversation about Milton's Paradise Lost, but I want to go ahead and post about our last class, on Monday, now.
What kind of conclusion can we possibly reach for a course that's brought together such a wide variety of poetry and prose written during a time period as politically and culturally diverse as the seventeenth century is? I think the best way to go about this is not to look for a single dominant theme or idea, but instead to think about key conflicts.
This is what I'd like you to do for our last class. At some point during the Thanksgiving Break, go back over your notes and flip back through the anthology; revisit some poems we read earlier in the course. Ask yourself this: what seems to be the defining conceptual conflict of seventeenth-century literary culture. Think hard and think creatively. A conflict of this sort can take many forms. It could be a conflict between body and soul, for example, or individuality and collectivity, or freedom and obedience, or tradition and innovation. You get the point. Come to class with a conceptual conflict in mind, and be able to talk about how that conflict manifest itself or gets treated in the work of a few different writers. This will form the substance of our Closing Discussion.
I'm really looking forward to this! (Even if it also makes me sad to think the end is nigh.)