Focussing centrally on Spenser and Milton, the course will also take up continental Renaissance epics and epic theory, with some brief notice taken of medieval practices of the heroic poem. The main emphasis of the course will be on the processes of canon-formation and the privileged status of the epic during the Renaissance and how these twin operations of canonization and genre reformulations can be understood as literary procedures with immense social ramifications. Epics to be read include *The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, Orlando Furioso, Jerusalem Delivered, and parts of Les Tragiques and La Franciade.* (A knowledge of French is not required, merely useful.) We will also take into account the contrast to these epics exmplified by Beowulf, the Song of Roland, and Chaucer's Knight's Tale (a rehearsal of Statius Thebaid): these last will not be read by the class but will the focus of reports. One short 10 pp. paper to provide the basis for class discussion and one longer seminar paper (20 pp.) a report and an in-class response to a student paper.