ENG 452 - The Renaissance in England (Spring 2013)

Rubens - Hero and Leander

Peter Paul Rubens, Hero and Leander, 1605 (Gemaldegalerie, Dresden, Web Gallery of Art)

Dr. Joel M. Dodson | MW 7:45-9 | Engleman D266

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This course offers an introduction to British literature in the 16th and 17th centuries, a period that has been traditionally termed the “Renaissance” and is now more conventionally called the “early modern” age in England. We will consider both labels this semester by surveying how the poetry, prose, and drama of Shakespeare’s contemporaries looked forward and backward – from the literary ideals of a Renaissance “golden world” to emerging forms of modern selfhood, politics, and sexual identity. To do so, we will pay special attention to three writers – Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and Ben Jonson – whose work not only bridges the late 1500s and early 1600s but in many ways invents the very idea of literary history we use to think about pre-1700 British literature. We will also spend the semester tracking a series of “keywords” and tropes through our readings in order to understand how the changes in early modern English reveal the emerging genres of lyric, prose, tragedy, comedy, romance, epic, pastoral, and satire in the period. Assignments will include two formal essays, a weekly keyword project, and a group presentation on contextual materials.  

 © Joel Dodson 2014