English Literature عمومي
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Where rhyme gets its reason!In a historical survey of English literature, I take a personal and philosophical approach to the major texts of the tradition in order to not only situate the poems, prose, and plays in their own contexts, but also to show their relevance to our own. This show is for the general listener: as a teacher of high school literature and philosophy, I am less than a scholar but more than a buff. I hope to edify and entertain!
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250 Years of English Literature

The University of Edinburgh

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This year marks 250 years of the study of English Literature at Edinburgh. As the world's oldest department of its kind, English Literature at Edinburgh has a long and illustrious history. The University is hosting a year of lectures, exhibitions and activities to celebrate this milestone.
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The Tragedy of King Lear, while considered by many as Shakespeare's greatest play, is also his most devastating. In this episode, we consider what Lear has to say about the meaning of human suffering. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Apple Podcasts …
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In this episode, we look at how our current concerns with identity politics intersects with those of Shakespeare's plays which portray sexist, racist, or anti-Semitic material. Fair warning: this episode will deal with language and tropes that some may find uncomfortable mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach Coun…
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Is Shakespeare's darkest tragedy a cautionary tale about ambition? a bit of Jacobean mythmaking? Or is it the portrait of a deeply committed marriage gone catastrophically wrong? With apologies for all the appalling accents . . . . Performance Clip: Macbeth with Orson Welles, Fay Bainter, and the Mercury Acting Co. Mercury Text Records. From the In…
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Shakespeare's Hamlet has not been out of production for over four centuries and its profound examination of the human condition continues to capture the hearts and minds of people the world over. Join me in Elsinore as we think about what some have called the greatest drama in history -- perhaps even the greatest literary achievement of all time! M…
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Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year! Here's a little subcast episode on poet Nahum Tate's "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," the first Christmas carol sanctioned by the Anglican Church around the turn of the 18th century. Recording: "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night" THE B.B.C. CHORUS; Berkeley Mason Writer: Nahum Tate (Tradition…
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Is political violence ever justified? Who decides? And what ethical systems can evaluate the justice of such acts? Today, we look at the ethics driving the characters of Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Ap…
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Welcome to the Subcast! On today's bonus episode, I give a little poddie-training on perhaps the most significant publishing event in English literature: the presentation of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Ap…
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In this episode, we'll look at two women who are generally regarded as among the greatest female characters ever written: Rosalind from Shakespeare's As You Like It and Beatrice from his Much Ado About Nothing. Their wisdom, intelligence, and emotional depth challenge Renaissance gender assumptions and inaugurate a line of deep-feeling, wise-cracki…
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17th-century poet and priest George Herbert offers a playful poem reminding us to strive for gratefulness. I am, myself, very grateful for all the support you all have offered me. Thank you so much! Additional sound: "Mahna Mahna" from The Muppet Show (1977). Downloaded from Internet Archive. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the po…
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In today's discussion, we take a look at the character of Henry, Prince of Wales, who will become King Henry V in the group of plays including Henry IV, parts 1 and 2, and Henry V, sometimes called "The Henriad." mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: App…
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Trick or treat! Here's a bone-us episode on Robert Herrick's "The Hag," about a witch's night ride with the Devil! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and YouTube. If you enjoy …
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Here's a good one for the Halloweeny season: Christopher Marlowe's most famous play. A scholar sells his soul to the Devil for ultimate knowledge and power! Correction: In this episode, I misidentify the author of "The Devil and Tom Walker" as Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is, of course, Washington Irving. Extra musical selection from "Faust" by Charles …
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Does Romeo and Juliet even need an introduction? Well, this time on the poddie, we'll look at the play's tragic lovers through the lens of the Renaissance sonnet, how that poem style's postures shapes the action, making character fate. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring J…
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Shssshh! Drift off into Shakespeare's most rhymy and least rational play! Today, it's The Dream! mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Apple Podcasts Spotify Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wher…
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We're here! Finally, our first Shakespeare play episode. Today, we'll look at The Tragical History of King Richard III. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Apple Podcasts Spotify Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, S…
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You may be surprised at how the rivalry between these early Elizabethan theatrical superstars played out! Betrayal, torture, assassination; this is tabloid-worthy stuff! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on I…
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Oooh, you're in for a bloody one today, dear listener! Perhaps the most popular revenge tragedy in the 16th-century: Kyd's Spanish Tragedy. Wildly infamous, wildly influential, wildly excessive -- just wild! It inaugurates the fashion for revenge tragedy that will dominate theater for the next decades, and paves the way for Shakespeare's Tragedy of…
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Perhaps the first great play of the Elizabethan stage, Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great is relentless and ruthless. How are we to understand a bloody conqueror and tyrant? What does Marlowe mean by this spectacle of his success? We'll look at those questions today! mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's ne…
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A bonus episode on the Subcast looks at the early modern English theatre, the culture and atmosphere of Elizabethan playgoing, as a prologue to our multi-episode discussion of the great English dramatists of the age, and for all time! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Th…
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This week on the poddie, we discuss a lesser known -- but by no means a lesser quality -- Elizabethan pastoral by Richard Barnfield called "The Affectionate Shepherd." In sophisticated, learned verse, Barnfield highlights the homoerotic elements (not always so) latent in classical and early modern bucolics, which I think a heroic feat in for a 16th…
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If you listen to much modern American country music, you notice that many of the songs conjure up an idealized vision of small-town rural America, distinct from (and presumably superior to) life in urban areas. The fact that many of these songs are written in large cities like Nashville points to a kind of constructed nostalgia. This is very like t…
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Today we'll look at the most famous tale from Spenser's epic The Faerie Queene: Book I "The Legend of the Redcrosse Knight." We'll discuss its allegorical and neoplatonic dimensions while doing a quick drive-by of a passage from Mutabilitie Cantos. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show…
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As Americans mark Independence Day, I wanted to out that the shift in Western thinking that eventually produced a document like the Declaration of Independence began with a doctrine of the 16th century Protestant Reformation and its influence on Tudor political thought. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify…
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Some say he is the first real poet of the English Renaissance. Whatever that may mean, Edmund Spenser certainly looms large in 16th century English literature. In this first of two episodes, we will look at his paradoxically traditional and innovative lyric poetry, especially The Shepheardes Calendar, Amoretti, and "Epithalamion." mosaic: Exploring…
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While the political history of Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603) has been well-rehearsed, fewer listeners may be aware that she was also a devilishly accomplished poet and rhetorician. In this episode of the Subcast, we look at her most important poems -- "When I was fair and young," "On Monsieur's Departure," and "The Doubt of Future Foes" -- as we…
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Though he spent only a brief period as a courtier of Elizabeth I, Sir Philip certainly cut a dashing figure. He also dashed off one of the most influential works of literary theory in English. And he was quite the dab hand at versifying. Today, we look at Sidney's Defence of Poesie, "Ye Goatherd Gods" from Arcadia, and sonnets from Astrophil and St…
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Sir Thomas More's 1516 book inaugurated a new genre of English literature: the utopian fantasy. But More's own life, combined with the text's irony and narrative layering, make this a more complex prescription than you might think! mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewis…
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Today we do a quick look at some of the poetry of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, who is credited with the development of the English sonnet and of blank verse. We'll look at "The Night Piece," "Love that Doth Reign," and “Alas, so all things now do hold their peace." Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify…
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Firmly in the Tudor Renaissance now, literati! Today, we'll look at Sir Thomas Wyatt, the first major poet of Henry VIII's court. He brought back the iambic pentameter line and developed the English sonnet. We'll look particularly at "They Flee from Me" and "Whoso List to Hunt." mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Be…
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As we move our discussions toward 16th century Tudor literature, we look at a key transitional figure: John Skelton. His virtuosic versifying introduces the English Renaissance and we'll hear "To Mistress Margaret Hussey" and take a deep look at "The Book of Phillip Sparrow." mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach…
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To mark the coronation of Charles III, I present to you a 15th century coronation poem written for Henry VI by John Lydgate. God Save the King! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Tik To…
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Let's have a look at perhaps why Chaucer, in his "The Miller's Tale," alludes so often to the incipient mystery plays of the late 14th century. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Tik To…
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If, as it's often said, William Shakespeare is the greatest writer in the English -- perhaps, indeed, in any -- language, then where did his most famous genre come from? Today, we look at the very earliest English plays, the birth of English theatre. We will consider "The Second Shepherd's Play," "The York Crucifixion," and "Everyman." mosaic: Expl…
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Sir Thomas Malory's hernia-making masterpiece Le Morte D'Arthur is the subject of part 4 of our sporadic mini-series The Matter of Arthur. Because it's such a massive work, and because its versions of the Arthur legends are the most well-known, this episode will largely focus on Malory's deft use of the Lancelot and Guinevere love affair as necessa…
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Here's a nice little egg in your Easter basket! I look at William Dunbar's Easter hymn "Done is the Battle" from around the year 1500. I hope you enjoy the show, and I hope your Easter, Passover, Ramadan, and spring rites are happy and blessed! Cheers! Additional Music: Consort for Brass by Kevin MacLeod Support the show Please like, subscribe, and…
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Today on the Subcast there's a brief explainer on the Great Vowel Shift, the most significant change in English since the Norman Invasion. We're beginning to move into Modern English! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com …
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Today we look at the literature of female mysticism in the English 14th and 15th centuries, particularly the landmark texts Dame Julian of Norwich's Book of Showings and Margery Kempe's The Book of Margery Kempe, which are not only profound religious statements but the earliest voices of women in the English language. Special thanks to Jessica Orlu…
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A Subcast episode looking at four of the most influential philosophers working in England during the Middle Ages: Anselm of Canterbury, Roger Bacon, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmai…
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Today we take a look at John Gower, who was once considered the "Father of English Poetry," but who is now largely unknown outside English departments. mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on: Apple Podcasts Spotify Support the show Please like, subscribe, …
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A CEL Subcast episode! Today we look at a comic poem from the first half of the 15th century: "The Tournament of Tottenham." But who's the joke on? On Hold Music: "Lounge" by Serge Quadrado Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmai…
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A Subcast episode! Let's read two Old English poems that treat the female experience in Anglo-Saxon England: "Wulf and Eadwacer" and "The Wife's Lament" -- the only surviving OE poems written in a woman's voice! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classic…
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What do peasants, poets, and priests write about when a toxic slurry of starvation, deprivation, and taxation spill over into the largest popular insurrection in English history? Find out as we look at the literature surrounding the Great Rising of 1381. With regards to Contemptua X. Smugly. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the pod…
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Today we look at Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, an anonymous narrative poem from the late 14th century Midlands. The Gawain Poet is a gifted technician and craftsman as well as storyteller whose technique interlaces disparate strands into an elegant pattern -- imagine a Celtic knot, the monastic Gospel illuminations, or the intricate metalwork of…
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Have you ever wondered if Chaucer's satirical broadsides against the Church could get him into trouble? Well, seems he may have thought so . . . . or maybe not. Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on Instagram,…
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Alisoun, the Wife of Bath, is perhaps the most psychologically complex character in all of medieval English literature. Bawdy, rebellious, haughty, and rambunctious, the Wife smashes the patriarchy . . . or does she? mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exploring Jewish... Listen on:…
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WARNING: Contains strong language. In this Subcast minisode, I look at what would have been considered foul language in the Middle Ages. If you are of a sensitive disposition or a delicate constitution, if you are prone to the vapors or simply upright in your rectitude, might I suggest that you listen to this episode with your fingers plugged firml…
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On our second episode for Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, we take a deep look at a character that scholars have called "pre-Shakespearean" in his psychological roundness and complexity: The Pardoner. Additional music: Timbre Milton Intro Remix mosaic: Exploring Jewish Issues mosaic is Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County's news magazine show, exp…
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A little stocking stuffer of a bonus episode: a couple of Middle English poems taking a look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the Nativity. Happy happy joy joy! Support the show Please like, subscribe, and rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen. Thank you! Email: classicenglishliterature@gmail.com Follow me on Instagram,…
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April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring pilgrims. No, not those stern po-faced separatists in New England, but a merry fellowship in old England! We come today to Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, the monument of medieval English literature. In this episode, we'll focus on the "General Prologue" to the tales: its satirical pro…
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For us moderns, dreams are personal and interior, bubbling up from the deep chasms of experience, neurochemistry, and cultural symbolism. But for the medievals, dreams were exterior: penetrative, intrusive -- they came from the outside, from beyond. They perhaps were messages from God Himself. On today's episode, we look at two poems about dream vi…
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