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Major British Writers

ENGL 020.601
TR 5-6:15

This course serves as an introduction to medieval and early modern writing in Britain, beginning with the Lancastrian usurpation of 1399 and ending with the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. We'll cover a variety of genres (e.g., Arthurian romance, cycle play, sonnet, utopia) and generally concern ourselves with the interrogation of the concepts of "medieval," "early modern," and "Britain." Questions we'll ask in this regard: what purpose do "the Middle Ages" and "the Renaissance" serve? More specifically, "whose" purpose, both then and now? How do the writers of the early modern period adapt and transform their medieval heritage? In what ways do all of our texts work to construct their own notions of the British nation? Our readings will be taken from such writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Thomas Malory, the York Realist, Thomas More, Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare. Requirements include regular attendance, active class participation, short writing assignments, and a final exam.