Interior Linkage

Exterior Linkage

Course Description

We will read several poets, the non-canonical as well as the traditional, from the middle of the reign of Henry VIII to the first decade of the rule of James I (1530-1609). We will concentrate primarily on Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.Yet we will also study Isabella Whitney, Mary Sidney, Anne Askew, Sir Thomas Wyatt, the Earl of Surrey, Barnaby Googe, Christopher Marlowe, Samuel Daniel, Sir Walter Raleigh, and others. We will talk about issues such as Petrarchism and other continental literary influences, Biblical translations, women as writers, and poetical form and meter. We will also investigate trends in sixteenth-century English history: the reigns of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, James I; England’s place in European politics and culture; religion and society, especially the Reformation.

Hans Holbein the Younger

I think he is my favorite artist, because he sees into the core of people and captures it in paint, chalk, or pencil in a way that is simultaneously breathtaking and disturbing. The two drawings here are particularly great, and make a nice pair. You could see the faces of Sir John and Lady Anne in England today, or, for that matter, in West Virginia or Vermont. The expressions are enigmatic: are the subjects about to burst into laughter or start crying? What could possibly be on their minds? And so forth. Holbein (1497-1543) was, like Handel after him, a great German artist who made good among das englische Volk. He learned much from his father, the great late Gothic painter whose style resembles Breughel’s. He was also apparently influenced by fifteenth-century Italian portraiture and humanism, so that he was able to create his own aesthetic. Erasmus recommended him, and on his migration to England in 1526, joined Thomas More’s household: the artistic results speak for themselves. His patrons included Anne Boleyn (as queen) and Thomas Cromwell, Lord Chancellor after More and Wolsey. He became Henry VIII’s official court painter. He is also important in the history of the book, and one hell of an engraver. Although I love his paintings, it is these drawings that I find astonishing—like a Shakespeare play or a canto of The Faerie Queene, the perspective changes and shifts on each viewing or reading. The Wikipedia entry on Holbein is mighty fine, so I will link it here. Also, definitely check out the Holbein page on the Royal Collection website (UK). Many of these chalk drawings and sketches are there.