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Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

English 3903  Renaissance Women Writers: Culture, Genres, & Legacies 

Section 001       CRN 97160
Renaissance Women Writers: Culture, Genres, & Legacies     1530-1645 TR

The pious expressions of Renaissance noblewomen and the seductive gazes of courtesans that grace the canvases of Renaissance artists from Bronzino to Tintoretto disguise the clever wits of women complicit with the strictures of their circumstances yet, in many cases, active as writers who participated in Renaissance literary society. This phenomenon of women portrayed in very limited ways, but who were actually well-educated, vocal, influential participants in literary circles was a fixture of Renaissance culture as it spread across Europe to England during the late fifteenth to early seventeenth centuries. In this course, we will look at the lives and works of several women writers from a variety of social strata, and we will examine their writing in tandem with some works by their male contemporaries. The major theme that we will explore is the discontinuity of received history regarding Renaissance women, i.e., the notions that women were to be silent, chaste, and obedient, and were to be objects of spiritual and artistic inspiration for men vs. the facts that women were actively and vocally participating in salon and academic society, writing, publishing, and otherwise circulating their work, and searching for ways to represent women’s experiences in life and love, all the while pushing the boundaries of women’s place in intellectual and literary discourse. (Group 5)