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Spring 2013 Course Descriptions

English 3803  Renaissance and 17th-Century British Literature

Section 001       CRN 31629
Renaissance and 17th-Century British Literature      1100-1150 MWF

Mind over Matter: The Real and the Ideal in the Renaissance Imagination  

In Philip Sidney’s Defense of Poesy, he celebrates the imagination of the poet who, bounded neither by nature nor by history but attentive to both, “freely rang[es] in the zodiak of his own wit” to create a golden world. In practice, the worlds created by the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries register profound responses to the imperfections and uncertainties these writers perceived around them—all while attempting to teach and delight their audience. In this course we will explore how these writers navigate this complex relationship between the real and the ideal as their writing attempts to come to terms with a new and often-shifting understanding of reality produced by innovation in its various guises—from advances in scientific knowledge to travel and exploration to developments in print technology to religious controversy. Readings may include More’s Utopia, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, Sidney’s Defense of Poesy, and other representative selections from sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers. Assignments will include a short paper, a longer research paper, a midterm and final. Expect significant engagement with the intellectual, scientific, religious, and political history of the period. (Group 3A)