Sem ENG Lit (Reps of War in Early Modern Lit) (LSE/pre-1700)

Over the last two decade and
a half, scholars and critics of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature
have investigated and invested attention on representations and traces of war
in English literature of the period. England’s involvement in what amounted to
a world-wide conflict with Spain from the 1570s until the reign of James I, a
proliferation of popular pamphlets on soldiering in the late 16th and early
17th century, the beginnings of colonization and proto-imperialism on the
margins of England’s dominion and in the New World, and the cataclysmic civil
conflict that overthrew all the institutions of monarchial government in the
mid-seventeenth century and the subsequent Restoration are the contexts within
which literature of the period can be viewed as haunted by war, whether through
direct or indirect representations, rhetorical addresses to audiences affected
by or enlisted into soldiering, or simply militarized metaphors and tropes.
Although our joint examination of representations and traces of war will focus
on canonical texts and writers, work in the course will be otherwise open-ended
and exploratory, and your seminar paper may focus on these works and these
writers, or others, or texts that are not normally thought of as literary at

Our investigation of early
modern literature of war will fall into three phases. First, a brief
introduction (about 3 weeks), directed by me, to the most important critical
work of the period, Sidney’s Apology for
and the most important and influential work focused on war and
empire during the early modern period, Vergil’s Aeneid,as translated by John Dryden after the English Civil War
and during the monarchial Restoration. Second, reading and study of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Parts One andTwo;
Shakespeare’s Henry V; Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Books 1 and 5; Milton’s Areopagitica, Of Education, The Tenure of
Kings and Magistrates,
and selections from Paradise Lostas well as some Civil-war related poetry (sonnets by
Milton, lyrics by Cavalier poets, works by Andrew Marvell); Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis,and selections from
Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan.During
these 6–7 weeks, each of you will be giving a report on a critical essay
examining one of these works or writers from a war-related perspective.  Finally, during the final 5-6 weeks of the
seminar, you will be giving a presentation on your research project and preparing
a draft of it that will be critiqued by a classmate and by me prior to final

Course objectives:

  1. Guiding you to analyze
    canonical 16th-century and 17th-century English literary works and writers from
    the perspective of England’s involvement in war during this time period and
    with regard to ethical and political issues associated with war (e.g.,
    imperialism and colonialism, just-war theory, trauma theory)
  2. Enabling you to analyze
    and present your own reading of one text and one or more critical
    interpretations of that text from such a perspective in an oral representation
    and subsequent short paper (4–6 pages).
  3. Requiring you to devise a research question
    focused on representations or reflections of war during this period and to conduct
    independent research to pursue and develop that question into a substantial
    (15–20  page) draft paper.
  4. Asking you to present your research project
    in-class for feedback and commentary by other students and for written feedback
    and critique by one student reader and myself.
  5. Encouraging revision and completion of your
    paper in a final form that might be considered for subsequent professional
    presentation orally or submission for publication.

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance and participation (20%)
  2. Oral and written
    interpretation of one required reading and critique of related scholarly article (30%)
  3. Research project:  presentation, peer critique, revision,      final submission (50%)