Love in Poetry


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This online course features the following types of interaction:

  • Pre-recorded content

In this course we will read poems by Sappho, Verlaine, and McKay. Sappho lived around 600 BCE on the island of Lesbos in Greece. Her songs were popular then and continue to generate afterlives now, waning and gaining in popularity alongside changes in sensibilities with regard to sexuality. Paul Verlaine wrote some poems in homage to Sappho in the late nineteenth century, but he casts Sappho in a different light, reflecting more the concerns of his age, as we will see. He also wrote deeply erotic and darkly tender love poems that occasion a range of responses. Over the last few days of this short course, we will read a selection of poems by Claude McKay, who was a novelist, a poet, a journalist, and a socialist, who lived and worked in the early-twentieth century. In these poems love becomes flirtation, thirst, polarity, futility, and perhaps, at best, a fleeting kind of romance.

This asynchronous (no specific meetings times) uses the Moodle platform. Students follow a syllabus with assignments and due dates.

Divya Menon is a scholar of global literature, literary theory, and aesthetic philosophy. She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Stony Brook University in December of 2019. Her current book project studies nineteenth-century aesthetic melancholy. She is a Visiting Lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.