English 4321. 795 The Renaissance Sonnet

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English 4321.795

The Renaissance Sonnet

Summer B 2016 Dr. Shawn Watson

Table of Contents

Description and Purpose
Computer Skills and Software Requirements
Important Dates
Communication Plan
Course Activities
Policies and Procedures
Respondus Monitor
Hardware/Software Requirements
Computer Emergencies
Student Support Services
Disclaimer and Rights

Description and Purpose

When Romeo and Juliet meet unexpectedly and first speak to one another at that fateful party of her father’s, this is what they say to one another.


If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.


Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this:
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.


Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?


Aye, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.


O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;

They pray: grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.


Saints do not move, though grant for prayer’s sake.


Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. [They kiss]

Shakespeare’s audience—at least the more discerning members of it—would have instantly recognized that the exchange comprised a perfect Elizabethan sonnet and they—at least the more sophisticated of them—would have realized that their ability to extemporize such a poem suggested that their love was extraordinary—in fact, a prelude to sacred love. The first purpose of this class is to make you discerning and sophisticated formalist readers of Renaissance sonnets, able to appreciate the details of their form and the depth of the ideas they appear to present, and then, second, to examine some of the cultural claims, values and problems that inhere in the poems. We’ll focus on two questions: why would fourteen lines of iambic pentameter have become such an important form of lyric poetry? And why so these poems focus so much on erotic love? In answering these questions, you’ll

  • investigate the historical influence of Continental poetry on English poetry

  • read a popular version of the philosophy of Neo- Platonism

  • define and describe the use of meter and rhyme in English Renaissance poetry

  • practice strategies for understanding metaphor, simile and conceit

  • read about four of the major poets of the English Renaissance and interpret representative poems from their sonnet sequences

In brief, you’ll study literary history, interpretive methods, and cultural context while becoming familiar with some major works of the British canon.

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There are three books required for the class:

  • The Book of the Courtier, Castiglione, translated by Thomas Hoby (Penguin)

  • Sixteenth- Century English Verse, edited by Sylvester (Oxford UP)

  • Shakespeare’s Sonnets, edited by Evans (Cambridge UP)

  • In addition, selections of poems by Dante, Petrarch, Michelangelo, and Donne will be provided for you within the course.

  • Critical articles on the poems- which you will use for one of your essays- are on library reserve or available electronically.

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Computer Skills and Software Requirements

To effectively complete the requirements of the course, you must have the following:

  • An e-mail address linked to Blackboard through CampusConnect (checked daily).

  • Daily access to your UTPB Blackboard account.

  • A working computer and Internet connection, which will allow you to receive all course materials.

  • A web camera

  • A microphone

  • Respondus LockDown Browser (http://www.respondus.com/lockdown/information.pl?ID=841715130)

  • A copy of Microsoft Word 2007 (or, some compatible word processing program).

Students, Faculty and Staff at UTPB can obtain software licensing and media for selected Microsoft titles at very low cost through a software agreement: http://www.utpb.edu/services/ird/information-for-students/software-distribution/microsoft-select

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Important Dates:

UTPB Academic Calendar

Communication Plan:

Please use Blackboard “Messages” to communicate with me about matters in the course; I will respond within twenty-four hours.  In the event you must reach me more quickly, please call my office phone:  432-552-2295.  In dire emergencies, you can try my cell phone:  432-553-0012, but I should warn you that from time to time I misplace the instrument or, like the absent-minded professor that I am, allow it to run completely out of power.  Use the cell only when you feel you have no other choice.  For those of you who are in West Texas, or are passing through, I am always happy to meet with you in actual reality; my office is 4156 Mesa Building. I’ll hold office hours this summer on Tuesday afternoons from 1:00-3:00, but I can be available at other times with advance notice.

And a Request:  though I’ve taught this course many times before face-to-face, this semester is its inauguration in a web version.  I welcome feedback at any time during the course, especially concerning anything that is unclear, contradictory or downright confusing. You may also leave feedback in the Feedback discussion forum.

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Course Activities:

Assignments:  You will find in the eight modules of this class assignments for each week.  Some weeks will have a variety of small assignments; others, later in the semester, will focus on more substantial projects and assignments.  You will write an essay on each of the five English poets we’ll read—Wyatt, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare and Donne; you’ll explicate and discuss your explications with your classmates in discussion boards; you’ll take a final exam that allows you to show your mastery of the sonnet form and your knowledge of these writers and their preoccupations.  See the chart below for a list of specific assignments.

Grades:  you will be able to earn a total of 800 points during the course; a grading scale is provided below.  Please keep up with the running total of the points you’ve earned during each week.
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Course Assessment:

Assessments and Point Values


Module 1

 Musical Comparisons—5 points                       
Your Musical Examples—10 points


The Architecture of Comparisons—15 Points 

The Metaphor Game—25 points 

The Conceit—15 Points                             

Evaluation and Explication of Comparisons—30  points


Module 2

Rhyme--10 points                                         

English Meters—15 points                             

Accent—15 points                                           

Sense Accent—15 points                             

Argument—15 points                                      

Essay:  Speaker and Character—30 points


Module 3

Figures of Speech in Italian Sonnets—10 points 

Evaluation: Italian Sonnets—10 points 

Paraphrase—30 points                                      

Wyatt Paraphrase—20 points                    

Explication—30 points


Module 4

The Characters of The Courtier—30 points       
The Qualities of the Courtier—30 points           

Neo-Platonic Love—10 points                         

Love in Italian and Renaissance Sonnets—30 points


Module 5

Paraphrase: Sidney—30 points                         

Metrics, Revisited—10 points                      

Conceits, Revisited—20 points
Voice and Character Essays—40 points


Module 6

Paraphrase: Spenser—30 points                       

Tone in Spenser—30 points                               

Amoretti:  Critical Opinions—40 points


Module 7

Your Preference—30 points                      

Paraphrase and Explication—30 points

Compare/Contrast Essay—40 points

Module 8

Metaphysical Imagery – 5 points

W;t – 5 points

Donne's Sonnets – 40 points

Final Exam – 50 points




Grading Scale


720-800 points


660-719 points


580-659 points


500-579 points


Below 500 points

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Respondus Monitor

Respondus Monitor:  This course has tests that require the use of a specialty browser. To download Lockdown Browser, please visit http://www.respondus.com/lockdown/information.pl?ID=841715130

Respondus Monitor requires students to have a webcam & microphone active during exams. Students need a photo ID (driver's license, school ID, etc.) to show to the camera at the beginning of the recording. A Practice Exam will be provided as an initial test of your system with Monitor/LockDown Browser turned on to go through the steps.

How It Works

  • Start LockDown Browser.

  • Log into Blackboard and complete a brief startup sequence prior to the exam.

  • The student and the surrounding environment are recorded during the entire exam via webcam.

  • The monitor will change to full screen and cannot be minimized so it will look a little different.

  • The exam cannot be exited until submitted for grading.

Respondus Monitor Computer Requirement

Windows: 7, 8, Vista, or XP

Mac: OS X 10.6 or higher
Internet Explorer (Windows) or Safari (Mac) must function properly on the computer
Adobe Flash Player
Web camera (internal or external) & microphone
A broadband internet connection

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Policies and Procedures:

1. Course Content Structure:

You will find in the eight modules of this class assignments for each week. Some weeks will have a variety of small assignments; others, later in the semester, will focus on more substantial projects and assignments.  You will write an essay on each of the five English poets we’ll read, and you'll have a final exam which will use Respondus Monitor. Please take the practice test to you check your configurations for Respondus Monitor.

2. Grading and Feedback:

You can check your grades by going to My Grades. If there is any discrepancy in the grade, you must contact me immediately. I will provide individual feedback or a general feedback in the performance of the course activity.

3. Cheating/Plagiarism/Academic Dishonesty:

"Plagiarism" includes, but is not limited tothe appropriation of, buying, receiving as a gift, or obtaining by any means material that is attributable in whole or in part to another source, including words, ideas, illustrations, structure, computer code, other expression and media, and presenting that material as one's own academic work being offered for credit.

NOTE: Students found plagiarizing or cheating will receive a zero on the course activity which could cause failure in the class and/or suspension or dismissal from the college.

4. Discussion Board Participation:

For each graded discussion session, first, you must respond to the material directly and second, you must read the other students posts and reply to at least the number of students specified in each different assignment. You must ensure that the responses to the questions are meaningful, reflective, refer to personal experience and support your course readings. Avoid postings that are limited to 'I agree' or 'great idea', etc. If you agree (or disagree) with a posting then say why you agree by supporting your statement with concepts from the readings or by bringing in a related example or experience.

You are expected to read all messages. You are responsible for reading all of the messages that are posted in the online discussion. Not reading messages is the equivalent of sleeping in class.

Use a person's name in the body of your message when you reply to their message. It helps to keep all of us oriented. It helps us maintain a clearer sense of who is speaking and who is being spoken to. As we begin to associate names with tone and ideas, we come to know each other better.

Change the subject line when you introduce a new topic. The value of this tip will become apparent as the number of messages grows.

5. Submission of Course Assessment Activities:

All the course assessment activities will be submitted via the submission link. Keep in mind the following standards/practices for submission of assignments:

  1. All course assessment activity files that will be submitted to the instructor should be in Word 2007 or RTF

  2. Be sure to put your name at the top of each page header

  3. Always keep a copy of all the work you submit so that you won't need to re-do it if it should get lost in cyberspace.

6. Make-Up/Late Submission Policy:

All course activities must be submitted before or on set due dates and times. If the student is unable to abide by the due dates and times, it is her/his responsibility to contact the instructor immediately. 

NOTE: The due dates and times for the activities will adhere to the Central Time Zone.

7. Accommodation for Students with Disabilities:

Americans with Disabilities Act: Students with disabilities that are admitted to The University of Texas of the Permian Basin may request reasonable accommodations and classroom modifications as addressed under Section 504/ADA regulations.

Students who have provided all documentation and are eligible for services will be advised of their rights regarding academic accommodations and responsibilities. The University is not obligated to pay for diagnosis or evaluations nor is it obligated to pay for personal services or auxiliary aids. Students needing assistance because of a disability must contact Programs Assisting Student Study (PASS) Office, 432-552-2630, Leticia Madrid, madrid_l@utpb.edu.

The definition of a disability for purposes of ADA is that she or he (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantively limits a major life activity, (2) has a record of such an impairment or, (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

If you need accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with the instructor, or if you need special arrangements in the case the building must be evacuated, please inform the instructor immediately. It is best to contact the instructor after class or during his/her office hours.

8. Course Incomplete/Withdrawal/Grade Appeal:

All students are required to complete the course within the semester they are signed up. Incomplete grades for the course are rarely given and will only be granted if the student has complete at least half/75% of the course with a grade of 'C' or better and provides a valid, documented excuse for not being able to complete the course on time and has contacted prior to the scheduled last class to request an extension. The student will sign a contract that includes the incomplete course activities and the new due dates.

For grade appeal process go to Student Grievances

9. Netiquette:

Anything you type in the discussion area is public - which means that every student in this class (including your instructor) will see what you write. Please pay attention to the language you use and adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Do not post anything too personal;

  2. Do not use language that is inappropriate for a classroom setting or prejudicial in regard to gender, race, or ethnicity;

  3. Do not use all caps in the message box unless you are emphasizing (it is considered shouting)

  4. Be courteous and respectful to other people on the list

  5. Do not overuse acronyms like you would use in text messaging. Some of the list participants may not be familiar with acronyms.

  6. If the posting is going to be long, use line breaks and paragraphs

  7. Fill in a meaningful Subject Line

  8. Write your full name at the end of the posting

  9. Be careful with sarcasm and subtle humor; one person's joke is another person's insult.

NOTE: If you do not adhere to the guidelines for any posting, you will lose the points that would have been granted, and the instructor reserves the right to remove your posting and to deny you any further posting privileges.

Refer to this link for additional help on netiquette: Netiquette CoreRules

10. Attendance and Class Participation:

Regular and active participation is an essential, unmistakably important aspect of this online course. The expectation of the instructor is that students will log on a minimum of three times every seven days. It is critical that you read all of the lecture and assignment materials as well as all of the public discussion materials. Your full participation ON A WEEKLY BASIS is not only a requirement; it is also an essential aspect of the online course process. All students are expected to do the work assigned, notify the instructor when emergencies arise, and make up assignments no later than the due dates.

NOTE: For summer classes students are expected to log in every day.

11. Tracking:

Blackboard course platforms have a tracking feature. This feature quantifies how often and when students are active in the course and also provides information if the student has accessed different pages of the course.

12. Absenteeism:

All the course activities have set dates to be completed and submitted. After the due dates the activities will not be available for the students. Thus, if you are ill for a prolonged time and cannot complete the activities, you must contact me and update the situation. You are expected to log into the course at least once a week. For summer courses you are required to log in everyday.

If I am going to be out because of ill health, attending a conference, etc you will be notified through email.

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Hardware/Software Requirements:

Please visit the following page: http://www.utpb.edu/online/reach/technical-requirements
You will find:

  • Requirements

  • Plug In Helper

  • Set up Information

  • Links to 24/7 Help Desk

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Preparation for Computer Emergencies:

Computer Crash

Not having a working computer or a crashed computer during the semester will NOT be considered as an acceptable reason for not completing course activities at a scheduled time. NOTE: Identify a second computer before the semester begins, that you can use when/if your personal computer crashes.

Server problems

When the Blackboard server needs downtime for maintenance, the Blackboard administrator will post an announcement in your course informing the time and the date. If the server experiences unforeseen problems your course instructor will send an email.

Complete Loss of Contact

If you lose contact with me completely (i.e. you cannot contact me via Blackboard or email), you need to call me at my office, and explain the reason you cannot contact me and leave me a way to contact you.

Lost/Corrupt/Disappeared files

You must keep/save a copy of every project/assignment on an external disk or personal computer. In the event of any kind of failure (e.g., Blackboard server crash or virus infection, students own computer crashes, loss of files in cyberspace, etc) or any contradictions/problems, I may/will request you to resubmit the files. In other words, if you submit a document to me, and I either do not receive it (lost in cyberspace) or it is corrupted when I open it, it is incumbent upon you to resend it to me, corrected, with little or no "downtime" in regard to the timeline for submission.

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Student Support Services:

ADA Accommodation/Support Programs Assisting Student Study (PASS) 432-552-2630

Admissions & Registration & Transcripts (432) 552-2605

Blackboard Technical Support 1-877-633-9152 (toll-free) UTPB Online Support Center

Bookstore (432) 552-0220

Counseling/Advising (432) 552-2661

Financial Aid and Scholarship (432)552-2620

UTPB Library (432) 552-2370

The J. Conrad Dunagan Library Online

Student Services UTPB E-Advisor

Tutoring & Learning Resources: If you are taking courses through UTPB the following links provide services: Smarthinking Online Tutoring (provides tutoring services), SmarterMeasure (measures learner readiness for online course).

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End-of-Course Evaluation & Instructor Evaluation:

Every student must complete an end-of-course evaluation/survey provided by UTPB. During the last few weeks of class, you will receive an announcement through email notifying you that the Course/Instructor Survey is available. There are three options to access the survey

  1. You may follow the link in the email to complete the survey using the same credentials to access your courses here.

  2. When entering Blackboard you will see a list of surveys for you to complete

  3. A button on the right hand menu bar will lead you to the survey from inside your course.

The survey is anonymous and you responses are confidential. Your feedback is critical to us and to your instructor as we strive to improve our offerings, and our support of you, the students.

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Disclaimer & Rights:

Information contained in this syllabus was to the best knowledge of the instructor considered correct and complete when distributed for use in the beginning of the semester. However, the instructor reserves the right, acting within the policies and procedures of UTPB to make changes in the course content or instructional techniques without notice or obligation. The students will be informed about the changes, if any.

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