[Milton-L] Andrew Marvell at the National Humanities Center, 24-29 June, 2012

Nigel Smith nsmith at Princeton.EDU
Wed Mar 21 13:13:11 EDT 2012

Dear Colleagues,

There are still a few places left on the seminar I am teaching on 'Andrew Marvell: Lyric and Public Poems' as a Summer Institute in Literary Studies at the National Humanities Center this coming 24-29 June.  Applicants may include advanced graduate students and junior faculty.  The National Humanities Center will cover the cost of travel, lodging, some meals, and texts. Participants will receive a stipend of $1,500.  The listed application deadline is March 23, 2012, but applications will be received through next week.

Applications details may be found at: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/sils/index.htm

The seminar is described as follows:

'During the last fifteen years Andrew Marvell's reputation has been transformed. A steady accumulation of historical and literary scholarship, new editions of his poetry, the first extensive edition of the prose in over a hundred years (in fact the first ever annotated edition of the prose works), new biographies and details of newly discovered texts, has meant that the refined and elegant lyricist justly celebrated by T.S. Eliot as the epitome of seventeenth-century European literary sensibility can no longer be considered apart from the other parts of life and works as well as the historical events in which he played an important role as observer and sometimes actor. We are invited now to think of him as at once poet, politician, spy, clandestine pamphleteer, "libertine," diplomat, theologian, philosopher, political and literary theorist, satirist, observer of current events, and critic of visual art. His reputation has accordingly grown to the extent that he might be regarded as second only to Milton in his time, and the relevance of his writings to our current moment has been widely debated in literary journalism, as much as his epic-writing friend, if not as much as Shakespeare. The degree to which his poetry has become an inspiration to contemporary poets and novelists (and not just those writing in English) is also remarkable. The new Marvell is a fusion of the poet we thought we knew and the patriot politician revered by the Victorians, but both spheres of knowledge are now vastly expanded even as they coincide.

This course will involve an intensive reassessment of Marvell's famous poems (e.g., "To his Coy Mistress," "The Garden," "On a Drop of Dew," "An Horatian Ode on Cromwell's Return from Ireland") and not so well known lyric and public poetry (both the praise poems and the verse satires) in the light of the new contexts in which we study Marvell. It will involve consideration of some of the prose works and letters in part for their own sake but more to illuminate the poetry. Marvell will be presented as innovator and maintainer of excellence in poetry in and of itself, and also through his prowess as political and religious theorist, including as a precursor and shaper of freethinking and the Enlightenment. We will explore in microscopic detail the texture of his verse from the pronoun, the parenthesis and zeugma to the rhyme, from the context of individual contemplative composition, writing political verse to order and the joint composing of satirical verse. Last but not least, we will investigate what the writings can tell us about Marvell's personality, his relationships and his sexuality, one of the most controversial issues in current Renaissance studies. Predecessors, contemporaries, and successors also featuring will include: Pindar, Horace, Ancrene Riwle, Machiavelli, Guarini, Jonson, Thomas May, Milton, Hester Pulter, Katherine Philips, Waller, Richard Fleckno, Dryden, Swift, Sterne, Emerson, Archibald MacLeish, Susan Stewart.'

It should be an exhilarating way to focus on many points of innovation in Marvell and seventeenth-century studies scholarship, and to consider future work in the company of other Marvellians.  The NHC is in the Durham/Chapel Hill area of North Carolina: the surroundings are extremely pleasant.

Best wishes,

Nigel Smith.
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