I am looking for some ideas to use in a unit on English Renaissance poetry with a high school gifted and talented class. I have creative writing lessons, so I'm mostly interested in AP-type analytical lesson ideas. I'm also interested in the titles of any premium resources on enotes that you can recommend. Thanks!
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I have always loved Edmund Spenser. You could easily break down "The Faerie Queen" into individual cantos. (Here is a link to the eNotes study guide: http://www.enotes.com/faerie-queene.) Another Renaissance Poet typically studied is John Skelton. The link to the eNotes study guide on John Skelton is: http://www.enotes.com/poetry-skelton-salem/poetry-skelton.
I like to really dig into the sonnet as a new form of poetry brought to England during the Renaissance period. I usually study a few sonnets by Phillip Sidney as well as Edmund Spenser because both of these poets were writing before Shakespeare and my students can then see how Shakespeare elevated the sonnet form and its substance from the traditional love poem, to something much more philosophical and rich. Some specific poems I especially like:
- Spenser: Sonnet 30 from Amoretti
- Spenser: Sonnet 75 from Amoretti
- Sydney: "My true love hath my love" from Arcadia
- Sydney: Sonnet 31 from Astrophel and Stella
- Sydney: "Thou blind man's mark"
These are widely anthologized and assessible to my senior literature students.
I found that a Paideia Seminar style worked well with poetry. It gives specific structure to the students and guides them in working through the material. Advanced students also seem to be more engaged (and thus learn more) when they are able to generate and voice opinions. Paideia Seminars ask students to answer a series of open ended questions which are designed to increase the students understanding of a particular work. Students are forced to think about the material in depth and in a new way. This type of lesson is likely to be very different from lessons they have seen in the past. I found the change of pace to help engage the students. I also found that discussing ideas and questions about poetry together often led the students into a deeper understanding of the material.
Here is a link to more information on this type of lesson plan. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:7ZuWij1HTU8J:www.mtlsd.org/jefferson_middle/stuff/paideia%2520seminar%2520guidelines.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShu2xBAohIQs6nHDQzXUqIkNG7bjK86WpGiJGVYoCiT8Uw5x0DFeCWD2Lu8oM0HXYp78zFluu3cYJtll-iZjAcvfgafkndklHeTygIpbPxCI4ajsueE0amPsWjnz0P5zvV0PIa9&sig=AHIEtbTLufhzvgMkZbQcxViuHOUCGrVrNg
I would try to emphasize to students that much Renaissance love poetry is very funny if read ironically, as I think much of it was intended to be read. Sometimes students assume that Renaissance poets are sympathetic to the love-longings of the male speakers they so often present, but much evidence suggests that the poets are deliberately mocking those speakers but presenting them as foolish. This is especially true, for instance, of the way Astrophil is presented in Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella sonnet sequence, but it also seems true of writings by many other Renaissance poets, especially Sir Thomas Wyatt and John Donne. Thomas Roche's book on sonnet sequences is very much worth reading for this kind of "take" on Renaissance poetry.
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