Undergraduate English Courses

358:311 Humanism and Its Discontents

01  TTH5  CAC             MILLER     MU-114

Humanism and Its Discontents
This course will explore the diverse and remarkably vital literature of the sixteenth century—literature that exuberantly celebrated man's ability to fashion himself and his world, accompanied by a deep skepticism about his capacity to do either--in its literary and cultural contexts. We will examine the major prose, poetry, and drama from a period now frequently referred to as "early modern," and try to understand why it has earned that label. Readings will range from utopian fiction to the love lyric, from romance/epic adventure to the formal "defense" of poetry, from a Shakespearean comedy that ends in multiple marriages to an anonymous "domestic" tragedy that concludes with spousal murder; authors will include Wyatt, Whitney, More, Marlowe, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, etc. We will consider emerging languages of self and state, constructions and deconstructions of order and disorder, the engendering (and gendering) of authority and authorship, through writers engaged in the project of forging the idea of a nation and a national literary tradition.

Attendance policy: regular attendance required.

Means of evaluation: papers and (probably take-home) exam