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Shall I Compare Thee? Poetry, Education, Seduction - An OpenMinds talk

Updated Thursday, 25th January 2018
Professor Richard Danson Brown explores poetry, comparison and education in a lecture for The Open University.

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"I’ll start by asking how were people like Shakespeare and Spenser educated – what did they learn at school? What were their models of literature? How are they different from our models? And from this, what is the purpose of literature?

At the end of the lecture, I’ll look at how Shakespeare and Spenser use those comparisons relate to the big theme of what literature teaches us."

Please note that the lecture starts two minutes in to the capture of this livestream, and you're free to leave your mobile phone if you wish!

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About the lecture

The demands that literature makes on readers, was addressed by Professor Richard Danson Brown in his inaugural lecture on Shall I Compare Thee? Poetry, Education, Seduction, given on Tuesday 6th June 2017.

Richard is Professor of English Literature in The Open University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and has contributed to over 13 modules, been Director of Level 1 Teaching, Associate Dean (Curriculum), Dean of Arts, and interim Executive Dean of FASS, before returning to regular academic life.

Richard addresses the three key themes of poetry, comparison and education. After exploring the ways which Elizabethans were taught, and their expectations of literature, he looks at the ambiguities of comparison in Shakespeare’s Sonnets and in Edmund Spenser’s epic, The Faerie Queene.

This lecture forms part of the work around the monograph he is  writing for Manchester University Press, The Art of The Faerie Queene, and which builds on book, co-authored with  J. B. Lethbridge, 2013's A Concordance to the Rhymes of The Faerie Queene.

Professor Danson Brown said: “I will look at the self-conscious manipulation of devices like simile in Elizabethan poetry in terms of the demands they make on us as readers. I will also ask if literature makes us better people, and the extent to which studying literature is educational.”

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Event programme

The lecture was given on Tuesday 6th June 2017, 6.00-7.00 at the Berrill Lecture Theatre, The Open University, Milton Keynes

  • 17:30 Refreshments available (arrive early and enjoy our pre-event display and trailer video)
  • 18.00 Opening
  • 18.05 Talk commences
  • 18:45 Q&A session
  • 18:55 Close
  • 19:00 Drinks reception and networking opportunity
  • 20:30 Departure

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