MSL Summer School 2023

Two 10-hour courses taught in-person Jan-Feb

The Melbourne School of Literature is proud to present the Summer School 2023 curriculum. All courses are 10 hours in length. All classes will be in person at the Kathleen Syme Centre in Carlton. Distance enrolment will be audio access only.

When: 10 January - 14 February

Where: Kathleen Syme Centre, 251 Faraday St, Carlton.

Distance Enrolment
Please note that for the Melbourne School of Literature portion of the 2023 Summer School, the MSCP is unable to offer online distance enrolment via zoom. However, all classes are being recorded in audio format only and will be available for distance students to access at the end of the class. Access to the recorded lectures will be provided via the online box portal. All payment must be made via credit card during enrolment.  Also it's worth noting that Melbourne (AEDT) is 11 hours ahead of UTC (5pm here is 7am in Berlin and 10pm in LA).

Fees (AUD):

Courses Waged Unwaged
1 $120 $80
2 $180 $120


MSL Summer Program

2 hours per week for 5 weeks

Tue 5:00-7:00pm
Starts 10 Jan
Love Poetry
Lecturer: Lucy Van
Wed 6:30-8:30pm
Starts 11 Jan
Elegiac Poetry: Who Mourns and How
Lecturer: Autumn Royal


Course Descriptions

Love Poetry

Lecturer: Lucy Van

Starts: Tue 5:00-7:00pm 10 Jan

Full Schedule: Jan 10, 17, Break, 31, Feb 7, 14

Location: Kathleen Syme Library, Carlton. Multipurpose Room 1 for week 1 and Multipurpose Room 2 for all remaining seminars..

Please note that this class has reached capacity for attendance enrolments. Distance enrolment (via audio recordings only) remains available.

A new poetic speaker emerged in Greece around the 7th century BCE. Something different was afoot, leading poetry away from grand Homeric visions of the past and towards the immediate and intense expression of amatory experience. Why did this happen, and why did this eventually fall out of favour? These questions could also be asked of peri-Augustan Rome, which saw a massive outpouring of Latin love elegy in a short period of time. We tend to think of love poetry as some universal thing—love makes poets of us all, the philosopher said—but love elegy was a project for a committed and perverse few, writing in times of political turbulence and social change.

Yet we hold fast to the idea that love poetry is universal. Our concepts of love, our romantic scenarios, romance itself, all seem to derive from poetry: love is blind, crazy, a battlefield, a triangle; lovers are young, fools, slaves; beloveds are forbidden, unattainable; kisses are stolen; dawn cruelly breaks. It all sounds indubitable, but the link between poetry and love is not certain. Catullus said the lover is on fire and speaks. But why should she speak? What’s poetry got to do with it?

This summer we’ll be sweatin’ to the classics with the lyrics of Sappho and the love elegies of Ovid. We will think about this poetry in its place: how do the intimate and luxurious lyrics of Sappho relate to the rise of the Greek city-state; how do Ovid’s cynical, urbane poems materialise the tail-end of the elegiac project, which roughly coincides with the end of the Republic? Turning our attention to a selection of figures and tropes in the poems, we will witness wild assertions about how language locates us in love, and, importantly, the pleasures this affords. Together, we will find ways to think about what these poets made language do, and how this making bears on love and poetry today.

Course Schedule

The time of love. Ancient Greek lyric hurled its audience out of the distant past and into the here and now. What could this new time accommodate? This session introduces the life and lyric of Sappho, with a special focus on the bittersweet time of the early Greek lyricists

  • CORE READING: Sappho, Fragments 1, 16 and 130 (trans. Anne Carson)
  • ADDITIONAL READING: Anne Burnett, ‘Desire and Memory (Sappho Frag. 94),’ Classical Philology 74.1 (1979), 16-27.

The geometry of pleasure. This session develops Sappho’s radical mapping of desire and gratification. Situations are seemingly populated by romantic rivals, but effectively devoid of rivalry. What are the vertices of her love triangles? And what is going on in the lover’s mind, the principal site of lyric action?

  • ADDITIONAL READING: Anne Carson, Eros, the Bittersweet (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986)
  • CORE READING: Sappho, Fragments 22, 31, 94 (trans. Aaron Poochigian)

The desultor amoris. This session introduces the love-worn, cynical and insincere protagonist of late Roman elegy, Ovid’s Naso. Why is this strangely resigned fellow so committed to the elevation of the minor god, Cupid, and what does love have to do with Rome and power?

  • FURTHER READING: Rebecca Armstrong, Ovid and His Love Poetry (London: Duckworth, 2005)
  • CORE READING: Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book 1; Ovid, Amores (trans. Peter Green)

Desire for discourse. This session focuses on the curious treatment of paraclausithyron in the Amores, introducing the idea of Naso’s authorial perversion, his logophilia. What is writing to the lover? What if writing was not a substitute for sex, but a form of sex? 

  • FURTHER READING: Ellen Oliensis, Loving Writing/Ovid’s Amores (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • CORE READING: Ovid, Amores 1.1, 1.6, 2.4 (trans. Peter Green)

After that I loathe, I runne. This session shuttles past Petrarch (who exorcised the desultor from lyric poetry), pauses at Shakespeare (who reanimated, aged and hardened him in the Sonnets) and finally lands in the late 20th century to think about love poetry in our time. What resemblance does it bear to those original bursts of classical love poetry? Who is the lover today, and what do they do in the love-poetry connection?

  • CORE READING: William Shakespeare, Sonnets 135, 146; Anne Carson, ‘The Glass Essay’
  • FURTHER READING: M. L. Stapleton, ‘ “After that I loathe, I runne”: Shakespeare’s Sonnets 127-54 and Marlowe’s All Ovid’s Elegies

Elegiac Poetry: Who Mourns and How

Lecturer: Autumn Royal

Starts: Wed 6:30-8:30pm 11 Jan

Full Schedule: Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1, 8

Location: Kathleen Syme Library, Carlton. Multipurpose Room 1 for week 1 and Multipurpose Room 2 for all remaining seminars..

Please note that this class has reached capacity for attendance enrolments. Distance enrolment (via audio recordings only) remains available.

In this course we will consider the ‘politics of mourning’ within a Western context and by doing so, asking and re-asking the question: who mourns? While we all ‘mourn’ there are many socio-political elements when it comes to the representations of mourning such as: who are the voices and experiences that are elevated over the voices and experiences that are silenced and/or erased by the ideologies/actualities of colonisation, racism, heteronormativity, and class structures. To ask who mourns is to also how they mourn. This is the work of each elegy.

To contextualise the elegiac form, we will begin with close readings of canonical elegies from the 17th century and gradually move towards contemporary elegiac poetry that subverts elegiac conventions. This approach will allow for a literary-historical account for how the elegiac mode stems from the elegy tradition and allows for a greater understanding of the poetic representation of mourning and a more diverse understanding of elegiac poetry and its possibilities.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Inventing elegy


  • John Milton, ‘Lycidas’
  • Thomas Gray, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’


  • Helen Deutsch, 2012, 'Elegies in Country Churchyards: The Prospect Poem in and around the Eighteenth Century', in Karen Weisman (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy, 2010.
  • Lauren Shohet, 2005, ‘Subjects and Objects in “Lycidas”’, Texas Studies in Literature & Language. 2005, vol. 47, no. 2.

Week 2: Surviving affect


  • Audre Lorde, ‘A Litany for Survival’
  • Anne Sexton, ‘Sylvia's Death’
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay, ‘Renascence’


  • Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion, (excerpts).
  • Schenck, Celeste M. 1986, ‘Feminism and Deconstruction: Re-Constructing the Elegy’, in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 13-27.

Week 3: Historical cuts and ecstatic tradition (Guest Lecture by Eva Birch and Gareth Morgan)  


  • Ariana Reines, A Sand Book, (excerpts)
  • C.A. Conrad, ‘Anoint Thyself’


  • Jacqueline Rose, The Haunting of Sylvia Plath

Week 4: A poet’s psychoanalysis and the act of writing


  • Evelyn Lau, ‘In Search of You in Search of Freud’
  • Jack Spicer, ‘Psychoanalysis: An Elegy’
  • W.H. Auden, ‘In Memory of Sigmund Freud’


  • Sigmund Freud ‘Mourning and Melancholia’

Week 5: Resisting consolation and romanticism


  • Dorothy Porter, Wild Surmise, (excerpts)
  • Alison Whittaker, ‘a love like Dorothea’s’
  • Oodgeroo Noonuccal, ‘No More Boomerang’


  • Juliana Schiesari, 1992, The Gendering of Melancholia: Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Symbolics of Loss in Renaissance Literature, Cornell University Press, New York. (Excerpts).
  • Anne Carson, 1992], ‘The Gender of Sound’, in Glass, Irony and God, New Directions, New York, pp. 119-142.

Course Descriptions