Academy of Lifelong Learning

ENJOYING THE POETRY OF JOHN KEATS

ENJOYING THE POETRY OF JOHN KEATS

Humanities

Jim Campbell

 

Jim Campbell

Tuesdays, March 19 – April 23 (six weeks) 4:15 – 5:30 pm
Moderated Discussion

In this course we will read, by ourselves and together, poetry by John Keats, principally the poems of his annus mirabilis, 1819, the 200th anni- versary of which we are now about to mark. Following the advice of literary scholar Jonathan Culler in his path-breaking Theory of the Lyric (Harvard UP: 2015), our aim will be to enjoy Keats’s poems in much the same way as we do the songs we like best – mainly, by hearing them read and saying them to ourselves. Freed from outworn critical dogmas and allowed to appreciate our poet’s compositions in ways we find congenial, we are also freed to pursue our natural interest in his life and to investigate how it may have shaped his poetry. We begin with two sessions on the six “Great Odes”, led by Nightingalein session one and Grecian Urn in session two. The ballad La Belle Dame sans Merci leads the third session, along with selected sonnets. In session four we will read the letters, and poems in the letters, written by Keats during his walking tour into Scotland in the summer of 1818. Session five is devoted to the narrative poem The Eve of St. Agnes. The sixth and final session, tracing Keats’ path to his 1821 death in Rome at the age of 25, will feature his last sonnet “Bright Star”, together with other poems and letters. The course mate- rials will be provided by the instructor; no purchases are required.

JIM CAMPBELL is a retired Washington lawyer who made time for a lifelong engagement with the humanities. Before going to law school he held a teaching fellowship in philosophy at Yale, and while practicing law he partici- pated for several years in Pamela Gardner’s Meadow Lane Literature Seminar in Chevy Chase MD. His writings include a contribution on Thomas Mann’s novel Doctor Faustus in P. Werres et al., Doctor Faustus: Archetypal Subtext at the Millennium (WVU Press: 1999) and a paper on the “‘Whole Truth’ of Wuthering Heights” delivered at the 2000 MLA Annual Convention. He and his wife Mary live near Centreville, where, aided by the resources of the internet, he continues to peruse the canonical texts of the West. In 2017 he offered the WC-ALL course “Knightly Combat and Courtly Love.”