Guest Lecture by Liza Blake: What's Metaphysical About Metaphysical Poetry?
On Wednesday, December 16th, Human Sciences is proud to present a special discussion with guest speaker Liza Blake:
What's Metaphysical About Metaphysical Poetry?
Readings: Poems by John Donne and Abraham Cowley.
What’s “metaphysical” about “metaphysical poetry”? The very name “metaphysical poetry”—the name of a group of poems written primarily in the first half of the seventeenth century—began as an insult, when John Dryden said of John Donne, “He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts.” But what if the metaphysics in these poems is more than a mere affectation? What if these poems show us that poetry as a mode of writing lends itself to “speculations of philosophy”? What can a study of metaphysical poems tell us about the relationship between poetics and philosophical analysis, and between poetry and philosophy?
Liza Blake is a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at the University of Toronto.