The Poetry of Astronomy
Poetry inspired by the beauty of the night sky dates back more than two thousand years and is still written today. However, the progress of science means that the night sky increasingly offers knowledge as well as beauty and wonder, giving poets new subjects, concepts, and themes with which to work. This seminar will examine the poetry of astronomy – poems written on astronomical subjects, and in some cases by astronomers – from both literary and scientific perspectives, under the guidance of professors from the Departments of English and Physics & Astronomy. Each week will feature discussion of a set of astronomy-related poems with a common theme, building on an introduction to the modern understanding of relevant background material. As a capstone project, each student will conduct an interview with a research astronomer, whose subject matter will inform the student's composition of a small set of original poems. The seminar will introduce students to the practice of research in both the humanities and the natural sciences and will have special appeal for those whose interests span both areas, although no familiarity with astronomy or writing poetry is required.