This course deals with texts that were written during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance when England was becoming a major cultural force. In our study of poems and plays by writers such as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne and Milton we shall examine a series of themes and issues that helped shape the development of the world as we know it. We¹ll witness evidence of the ongoing struggles between nations, social classes, genders and religions that were (and remain) so important to human interaction. We¹ll also have one session at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where we¹ll be able to look at some of the material things that were a significant part of the cultural world reflected in the texts we¹ll be reading. Students will be asked to analyze poems and plays in the context of the ways in which they address various kinds of cultural and historical issues. Problems such as the ongoing conflicts between church and state, religion and science, ruler and ruled, patriarchal authority and the gradual awakening of feminist consciousness will all be fleshed out in terms of literary techniques including poetic forms and imagery, character delineation and development, and the tonal modes that express and represent human emotions. In addition to occasional quizzes during the initial part of the course, students will be asked to take a midterm exam as well as to write a final paper.