This course will introduce you to some of the significant works and writers of English literature through the the Restoration Period (1660-1700), with particular attention to the linguistic, historical, cultural, and biographical contexts of this older literature as well as its most important literary modes and forms: epic, lyric and narrative poetry, drama. Lectures on the works and their contexts will be combined with discussion of questions posed by this instructor and class members, both in class and electronically. Some work will be done in small groups as well, and each group will report on an important medieval, sixteenth-, or seventeenth-century writer or work that is not part of the required reading–for example, Majorie Kempe, Thomas More’s UTOPIA, and Thomas Hobbes’s LEVIATHAN.
Course requirements include three exams, each on the three major periods of literary and cultural history–medieval, Tudor (sixteenth-century), and Jacobean/Commonwealth/Restoration (seventeenth-century). None will be cumulative, and the first two will combine in-class writing with a take-home writing assignment. You will also write two comparison papers and present a group report as outlined above.
Student Learning Outcomes: Intensive & extensive knowledge of works, characteristics, and contexts of English Renaissance literature; familiarity with generic and rhetorical features of poetic and dramatic texts; success in presenting an oral and written independent reading project to peers; success in composing written arguments using primary literary texts for support.
Works to be read include
- BEOWULF, SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT
- THE MILLER’S PROLOGUE AND TALE and THE WIFE OF BATH’S PROLOGUE AND TALE from Chaucer’s CANTERBURY TALES
- GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT
- THE SECOND SHEPHERD’S PLAY
- Christopher Marlowe’s DOCTOR FAUSTUS, HERO AND LEANDER, and “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love”
- Spenser’s EPITHALAMION and THE FAERIE QUEENE, BOOK ONE
- excerpts from John Skelton, Thomas Wyatt, and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
- sonnets by Shakespeare and Sir Philip Sidney
- selected lyric poetry of John Donne, Ben Jonson, George Herbert, Robert Herrick, and Andrew Marvell
- prose excerpts from Sidney, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, and John Milton
- Ben Jonson’s VOLPONE
- John Webster’s THE DUCHESS OF MALFI
- and Milton’s PARADISE LOST.
- NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE, VOLUMES A and B