Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Family Matters: Tales from the Dark Side

ENGL 430.910
instructor(s):
TR 5:30-8:40

What influences do family relationships have, not only on daily life, but also on issues of identity, behavior and responsibility? Is the "dysfunctional family" a modern creation? This course will focus on themes of domestic life in early modern England. We will look at literary and non-literary texts written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to try to understand family life in this crucial and transitional period of English social history. Specifically, we will study primary source materials such as laws, legal cases, homilies, conduct books, and personal diaries concerning such matters as chastity, betrothal, marriage, children, a wife or a husband's "duties," domestic abuse, adultery, and bastardy. Among the literary figures we will be reading are Shakespeare, Middleton, Ford, and Wycherley.