Ann Lauinger

BA, University of Pennsylvania. MA, PhD, Princeton University. Special interest in medieval and Renaissance poetry, particularly English. Author of papers and articles on Shakespeare and Ben Jonson; of Persuasions of Fall (The University of Utah Press, 2004) and Against Butterflies (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2013), both books of poems; and of poems published in Confrontation, Missouri Review, Parnassus, and other magazines. Recipient of Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, Ernest J. Poetry Prize, Thouron-University of Pennsylvania British-American Exchange Program scholarship; Woodrow Wilson Fellow. SLC, 1973–

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019


First-Year Studies: Comedy and Romance in the Middle Ages

Open , FYS—Year

Knights and ladies, quests and combats, magic and love...these ingredients of medieval literary romance have been around for a thousand years and are still going strong today. But did these motifs mean something different in the medieval world? What accounts for their enduring appeal? We begin in the 12th century with an introduction to romance in both male and female perspectives from Marie de France, Chrétien de Troyes, and the troubadour poets. We end in the late 15th century with selections from Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, the definitive version of King Arthur in English. The rest of our texts—including the story of Tristan and Iseult, love poetry by Dante and Petrarch, and narratives by the Gawain poet and Chaucer—enable us to explore how the stuff of romance continued to be developed, revised, and subjected to the scrutiny of laughter during the intervening centuries. In class discussion, our focus is on understanding the human experiences that these texts portray. To do this, we need to uncover the assumptions and methods that medieval writers and readers brought to literary creation and to reconstruct, as best we can, the material and imaginative worlds of the Middle Ages—captivatingly strange yet surprisingly recognizable.

Related Disciplines

Previous Courses

The Mirror and the Rose: Shakespeare's Poetry in Context

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring
The reading for this course is the poetry that Shakespeare wrote apart from the stage: his sonnets, his three narrative poems (“Venus and Adonis,” “The Rape of Lucrece,” and “A Lover’s Complaint”), and the puzzling lyric commonly known as “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” Shakespeare was fully immersed in his culture, with strong roots in the busy commercial theatre of 16th- and 17th-century London and perhaps some acquaintance with figures at court. Like his plays, Shakespeare’s poems show a knowledge of current trends in writing; and, as in everything he wrote, Shakespeare transformed any genre or style to which he turned his attention, stretching its possibilities. To provide context for Shakespeare’s poems, we’ll read several other poets: the Italian Petrarch (1304-74), grandfather of the love sonnet, with his translators Wyatt and Surrey; and Sidney, Spenser, and Marlowe, three contemporaries of Shakespeare. Our discussions will include technical issues of meter and form, as well as the emotional, intellectual, and cultural work that the poems do. Students may do conference work in a wide range of literary topics, including those unrelated to the course.

Adam’s Dream: Romantic Poetry and Beyond

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Fall
As a cultural movement, Romanticism radically transformed the notion of what it means to be alive, re-envisioning the human in relation to what critic Keith Sagar called “the energies, powers, presences of the nonhuman cosmos.” Beauty and the creative imagination assumed new importance, and poetry rivaled philosophy as a key to the big questions. This course centers on a close reading of three poets—the high-romantic Keats, the symbolist/modernist Rilke, and the 21st-century American Louise Glück—whose work allows us to trace Romanticism and some of its developments to the present day. We’ll also read shorter excerpts from poets roughly contemporary with those three: Giacomo Leopardi, Tennyson, and Mark Strand. In discussing poems and writing about them, we aim to deepen our understanding by paying consistent attention to language and technique and to sharpen our ability to articulate that understanding. Students may do conference work on a wide range of poets and topics in poetry or choose an altogether different focus, depending on their interests and needs.

English: History of a Language

Open , Seminar—Year
What happened to English between Beowulf and Virginia Woolf? What’s happening to it now? The first semester of this course introduces students to some basic concepts in linguistics, tracing the evolution of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar from Old English (Anglo-Saxon), through the Middle English of Chaucer, to the Early Modern English of Shakespeare and the 18th century, to an English that we recognize—for all of its variety—as our own. Second semester turns from the history of English and the study of language’s change over time to the varieties of contemporary English and a sociolinguistic approach to the ways in which language differs from one community of speakers to another. Among the topics for second semester are: pidgins and creoles, American Sign Language, language and gender, and African American English (Ebonics). This course is intended for anyone who loves language and literature. Students may choose their conference work from a range of topics in either language or linguistics or both.


Open , Seminar—Fall

A reading of selected works spanning Shakespeare’s entire career as a playwright allows us to sample the different dramatic genres in which he wrote. The emphasis is on a close examination of language and dramatic construction, but we will also look at the physical and social organization of the playhouses and acting companies in Shakespeare’s London and at some intellectual and cultural traditions of the Renaissance. Conference work may build directly on the course or may take up something quite unrelated, depending on the student’s interests and needs.


Small Circle of Friends: A Topic in Renaissance Literature

Open , Seminar—Spring
The love poetry of the Renaissance is famous—and justly so. But 16th- and 17th-century writers also thought a great deal about friendship, fellowship, and community—and about the settings in which such relationships might thrive. This course looks at some versions of living together—as best friends, in the idyllic setting of a country house, or in the ideal society—set forth in a variety of texts from classical antiquity and the Renaissance. What does it mean to call a friend “a second self”? Do men and women envision friendship differently? How did the country and the city turn into ideological opposites? These are some of the questions raised by our reading: poems by Horace, Juvenal, Martial, Aemilia Lanyer, Katherine Phillips, Spenser, Ben Jonson, and others; essays of Erasmus, Montaigne, and Francis Bacon; Thomas More’s Utopia; the Abbey of Thélème (from Rabelais’ Gargantua); Shakespeare’s Henry IV and The Tempest. Conference work may relate to some aspect of the course, but it need not.

Allegories of Love

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year
This seminar centers on a reading of five great storytellers and poets: Vergil, Ovid, Dante, Chaucer, and Spenser. The powerful and complex fictions of these five contributed crucially to the ongoing “invention of love,” that profound—and profoundly problematic—passion that has seemed for more than 2,000 years of Western civilization to lie at the heart of human existence. Additional readings from Homer, the Bible, the Roman de la Rose, and lyric poets such as the troubadours, Petrarch, and Shakespeare will help us establish cultural contexts and provide some sense of both continuities and revisions in the literary imagining of love from antiquity through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Conference work may relate to some aspect of the course, but it need not.