This course aims to introduce students to key issues and texts-- historical, cultural and literary-- of medieval and Renaissance England. We will read a variety of men and women, poets, prose writers and dramatists, pamphleteers and preachers, well known and more obscure, who take us into pre-modern worlds that are significantly different from our own, and yet help us understand our own modernity. We will focus on ways in which ideas about ‘self’ and ‘community’ shift during this period, and are expressed in different forms of writing. We will trace the changing meanings of gender, the family, kingship, love, and the nation that eventually came to be called Britain. Readings will include work by Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Thomas Malory, Queen Elizabeth I, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, John Milton and others. Requirements are: regular attendance and class participation, two short papers, one midterm exam and a final paper.