The Global Renaissance
Globalization is usually understood as a modern phenomenon. But recent scholarship has suggested that the Renaissance (which used to be depicted as the “Age of Discovery”) is actually the time when the world became global. Economic networks between Asian, Africa, the Americas and Europe were forged, in part through trade, and in part through colonization and slavery. In other words, this can be seen as an age of early globalization, which resulted in cross-cultural exchange and in cross-cultural tensions.
As a result, a new global consciousness arose in Europe. Renaissance ideas, art and literature, markets, food, and habits were all reshaped. Renaissance art was enriched by images from every corner of the earth, Renaissance literature began to depict inter-racial romances, and Renaissance markets burst with imported goods such as tobacco, spices, silks, and coffee.
This class is primarily concerned with how these changes impacted English culture and literature. When the Swiss Ambassador Sir Thomas Platter visited London in 1599, he commented that the English don’t like to travel much but learn of “foreign matters …at home.” In this course, we will examine the intersection of the “home” and the “world.”
Course materials will likely include writings by Christopher Columbus, Las Casas, Thomas More, William Shakespeare, Michel de Montaigne, Aphra Behn, and Margaret Cavendish. We’ll read them alongside the first world atlases, paintings, maps, travel writings, piracy documents, clothing books, and other kinds of images that circulated in England.
Requirements: consistent class participation, weekly posts (1-2 pages), a mid-term and a final examination.
Sector 3 of the English major.