This course is designed as an introduction to literature from the height of Middle English to the late seventeenth century. The course will examine the relationship between history and literature, moving chronologically through the material to ask how specific texts and generic forms (such as epic, pastoral, tragedy, the sonnet) accentuate, reflect, and shape changing social and cultural conditions. We will read narrative poetry by Chaucer, Skelton, Spenser, and Milton; dramatic works by Shakespeare, Jonson and Marlowe; and lyric poetry by Daniel, Donne, Wroth, Herbert, Lanyer, and Marvell. Prose works will include More's Utopia, Sidney's Defence of Poetry, excerpts from Bacon's essays and the works of Nashe and Dekker. We will also consider generic hybrids like Elizabeth Cary's closet drama, The Tragedy of Mariam.