Where did the typical “Western” expectations within romantic relationships come from? (You know…the man pays…the woman must be a golden-haired, sapphire-eyed angel…there’s a man and a woman in the relationship, in the first place…) And are these conventions worth revisiting not only to understand their origins but also to question our understanding and acceptance or rejection of them? Should men open doors? Propose? Should women be expected to string along even an ideal suitor? Does the perception of "no" really means "yes" have deeper roots than we may have thought? How have the ideas of unrequited love, passio (pain and suffering), physical beauty ideals, and a lover who debases himself and never gives up been perpetuated as well as questioned? Does the boom box scene in Say Anything hold a clue? The answer is the sonnets.
I love teaching the sonnets—most often in my career as part of Brit Lit, Global Lit, and AP Lang classes. I have found the sonnets and our in-class annotations and close reading have allowed us to explore not only style and form but also beauty in art and the ideas within. The questions above can permeate your analytical study of the form and its themes.
This unit takes the teacher and student through an understanding the origins of the ideas and ideals of Courtly Love [Courtly Love Background Lecture / Teacher Notes / Prezi], explores exemplar sonnets from Petrarch through Wyatt and Sidney (height of the sonnet craze in Britain), and into Shakespeare who mastered the form and its conventions and not only turned them into an art (as opposed to a craft of imitation), but also re-defined love itself [The Invention of the Sonnet packet]. Finally, the unit extends to include an individual sonnet study annotation and close reading analytical paper which includes sonnets to consider, outline, and rubric [Sonnet Close Reading Essay documents].
I hope you find this unit helpful and exciting for you and your students! Please let me know how it goes for you!
In this unit: Courtly Love Background Lecture / Teacher Notes / Prezi, The Invention of the Sonnet packet, Sonnet Close Reading Essay documents, and Using Strand Language guide (also in my store listed separately)
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