Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Major British Writers 1350-1660

ENGL 020.302
instructor(s):
MW 3-4:30

This course will survey the writings of authors from Chaucer to Milton, paying close attention to literary form and the historical contexts which enable, inform, and are themselves shaped by literary representation. We will explore a range of medieval and early modern literary forms, including narrative and lyric poetry, popular and courtly drama, and prose tracts by such authors as Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, More, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Marlowe and Milton. Our analyses of these writers will be informed by questions concerning the nature of canonicity (i.e., why these authors and these texts) and the role of literary production in social struggle (among classes, nations, genders). We will pay attention to significant historical developments (the shift from feudalism to capitalism, humanism, the Protestant Reformation, colonialism), but we will also observe how the earlier writings studied continue to press upon and inform the styles and themes of subsequent writers.