The Sonnet: A World in 14 Lines
For eight hundred years, the sonnet has been both a constraint and a gateway to freedom. The sonnet contains multitudes. It conveys the complexity of Shakespeare’s love and the intensity of Donne’s religious meditations, the beauty of nature in nineteenth-century England, and the fight for racial justice in twentieth-century America.
This is a four-session afternoon seminar that meets July 18 to July 21, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Learn more on our Toronto Pursuits page.
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Sean Forester is an artist and lecturer from the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied English literature at Cambridge and received the university’s Kinsella poetry prize.
The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology, edited by Edward Hirsch and Eavan Boland
(W.W. Norton, 2009)
Participants are required to obtain the specified editions to facilitate the group’s ability to find and cite portions of the text during discussion. Details will be provided at registration.
Sonnet is Italian for “little song.” Not thirteen, not fifteen, but exactly fourteen lines. For eight hundred years this poetic form has been both a constraint and a gateway to freedom. The sonnet contains multitudes. It conveys the complexity of Shakespeare’s love and the intensity of Donne’s religious meditations, the beauty of nature in nineteenth-century England, and the fight for racial justice in twentieth-century America.
What is the basis for the sonnet’s enduring appeal? How does the confinement of fourteen lines create such intense emotion, such inventive language? The text for our seminar will be The Making of a Sonnet, an anthology that contains a rich diversity of poems. We will study poetics, from traditional meter and rhyme to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ unique sprung rhythm and Elizabeth Bishop’s modernist verse. The sonnet is a perfect choice for an afternoon seminar: short readings for each day, readings with a great deal of depth and complexity.
This is a four-session afternoon seminar; you can register for this seminar on its own, or this seminar plus a morning seminar.
“The Sonnet is a world, where feelings caught
In webs of phantasy, combine and fuse”
—John Addington Symonds
Toronto Pursuits 2022
See the Toronto Pursuits 2022 page for full details on the program schedule, health and safety, booking your accommodations, terms and conditions, and more.
Add-on to main Toronto Pursuits program, Afternoon seminar only