What was the English Renaissance and why should we care? Why are people still making movies like "Shakespeare in Love"? This course pushes the margins of the term "Renaissance" in two ways: chronologically -- by looking back into the Medieval period and forward into the eighteenth century -- and geographically -- by examining points of contact between English citizens and non-English cultures. Literary texts and methods will form the backbone of our study, but we will also explore the society of Renaissance England in terms of politics, art, religion, music and science. In considering the work of the period’s most famous individuals, we will ask ourselves what, if anything, made the men and women of Shakespeare’s generation unique. How did they represent themselves to the rest of the world, and what do those representations tell us about their lives, their politics and their discoveries? Finally, we will examine our own cultural obsession with this period by examining films, advertisements and other popular media.