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The Spanish Connection

ENGL 539.401
instructor(s):

SPAN687:401 is the primary course listing for this course.

This seminar will examine the place of Spain in early modern English culture. The premise is that to make sense of England's strategies of self-definition and self-representation in the sixteenth and early-seventeenth century we must, paradoxically, turn to Spain. For despite the differences created by the Reformation, English incursions in the New World, and the conflicts in Ireland and the Netherlands, England remained, both culturally and politically, in Spain's debt. In a period that begins with the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon, and that briefly rehearses the dynastic allegiance at mid-century, when Mary Tudor marries Philip II (and, again, as farce, with the attempted "Spanish marriage" of Charles I), the two nations remained closely linked by literary and imperial preoccupations and by England's insistent imitation of Spain's primacy. Topics will include the role of Spain as imperial and cultural model, the production and dissemination of the Black Legend, and the creation of an English literary canon from Spanish materials. The goal will be to move beyond the Armada moment, with its emphasis on conflict, to the multiple and productive connections that characterize the period, particularly in terms of English literary nationalism. Readings will range from pamphlets and travel narratives to translations of Spanish originals to Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.