The English Renaissance represents a late blossoming of the general cultural “rebirth” in Western Europe characterized by the recovery of Greek and Roman classics, the celebration of the multifaceted individual, and a renewed emphasis on the secular world. Alternatively labeled “the early modern period,” this era also saw the voyages of Columbus, the development of the printing press, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of centralized monarchies. English writers expressed the vitality and volatility of the Renaissance/early modern period in an outburst of prose, poetry, and drama that spanned the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth century. This quarter, we will focus on Thomas More’s Utopia, written in the wake of the first Spanish-sponsored voyages to the Americas; a wide range of writings by and about Queen Elizabeth I, who was known as both “the virgin queen” and a “female king”; and Shakespeare’s late play, The Tempest, which engages questions related to England’s emerging global imperial project. This course should interest students in literature (English and comparative), history, global studies, and women’s studies, as well as related disciplines.
The following editions are required for the course:
Brotton, Jerry. The Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Elizabeth I, Queen. Elizabeth I and Her Age. Ed. Susan M. Felch and Donald V. Stump. New York: Norton, 2008.
More, Thomas. Utopia. 3rd edition. Ed. Robert M. Adams and George M. Logan. New York: Norton, 2010.
Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman. New York: Norton, 2003.