ENGL428G - Seminar in Language and Literature; Songs of Struggle: What Is Literature?

This course connects the song culture of early modern England--the period of William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Byrd and Henry Lawes--to the power of song in contemporary life, from Kendrick Lamar to CocoRosie. We will ask how the combination of music and verse creates meaningful forms of social action, and we will explore how and why songs come to animate political movements and collective struggle. Throughout the course, we will study how the category of “literature” connects to musical performance in the Renaissance period and in the present day. Secondary readings will be drawn from R. Murray Shafer, Jaques Attali, Mladen Dolar, Mark Booth, Bruce R. Smith, Patricia Fumerton, and others. Assignments will include weekly blog postings, short writing assignments, a group project asking “what literature is not,” and a research paper.