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Benefits of Renaissance Literature

ENGL 538.301
instructor(s):
R 9-12
Bennett 335

This course takes Seneca's *De beneficiis*, Cicero's *De amicitia*, and Aristotle's *Ethics* as its point of departure, and considers the impact of ancient friendship theory on the Renaissance discourse of literary tradition. Working our way from Petrarch's *Letters to Dead Authors* to Swift's *Battle of the Books*, we will examine the pre-history of the Quarrel that erupted, on the eve of the Enlightenment, between Ancients and Moderns. In particular, I would like to challenge the assumption that Harold Bloom's celebrated agonistic model of literary influence is historically appropriate to the Renaissance, or to any period before Romanticism. Additional readings for the course may include: Tacitus's *Dialogue on Orators*; the *Meditations* of Marcus Aurelius; Marlowe's *Hero and Leander* and Chapman's; Spenser's *Shepheardes Calender* and *Faerie Queene*; his published correspondence with Gabriel Harvey; Shakespeare's *Sonnets*; elegies produced by Spenser and others for Philip Sidney, and by the Tribe of Ben for Ben Jonson; Drayton's *Poly-Olbion* and Selden's annotations; Donne's *Metympsychosis*; Milton's *Lycidas*; essays on friendship by Montaigne and Bacon; Meric Casaubon's *General Learning*; Dryden's *Fables*; and other texts pertaining directly to the Quarrel of Ancients and Moderns, like Temple's *Essay* and Wotton's *Reflections*.