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Literature Before 1660

ENGL 020.301
instructor(s):
MW 3:30-5:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major

This course introduces students to the range of poetry, prose, and drama written in England between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries. In particular, it examines the ways in which writers represented the relationship of English men, women, and even children to the worlds that they inhabited. We will start with two prose accounts of society: More's early, idealized Utopia and Pepys's Diary of life in seventeenth-century London. Following that, we will proceed by genre, examining long verse narratives (Chaucer, Spenser, Milton), drama (a tragedy by Shakespeare and a comedy by Jonson), and lyric poems (Wyatt, Sidney, Donne, Wroth, Herbert, Marvell, and, yet once more, Milton). What can we learn from both idealized and realistic portrayals of familiar landscapes? To what extent do changes in literature reflect shifts in English history and culture, including religion, politics, science, and class and gender relations? This class relies heavily on student discussion and participation; assignments will include brief written responses to the reading, a mid-term and a final exam, and reading quizzes as necessary.