Sem ENG Lit (Fantastic in Early Modern) (CSAP/LSE/pre-1700)

How did early modern England imagine those outside its geographical and cultural borders? This class will address the representation of the magical, the fantastic, and the (literally, socially, and culturally) outlandish in the English Renaissance. From monstrous births to witches and their familiars, we will consider how representations of magic and the occult reveal early modern England’s anxieties about gender and sexuality, national order and national identity. But we shall mostly focus on portrayals of exotic lands and national, religious, and racial “Others” in several early modern texts. In particular, we’ll look at depictions of Ireland, America, and Africa; Islam, Catholicism, and Judaism; Moors, Indians, and Africans. We’ll ask how these depictions of foreigners and foreign lands work both to construct an English national identity and to reveal its fissures. This course will ask participants to animate their critical inquiry with questions about how difference is theorized, then and now: How do the stories we tell about “Others” shape fictions about ourselves? How do terms such as “race,” “nation,” or “color” shift in meaning between the Renaissance and today? And how is national difference constructed?