This course will examines the writing, printing, dissemination, interpretation, and censorship of specific words, phrases, mottos, sentences, commonplaces, and proverbs in early modern England, France, Italy, Spain and America. We will begin by analyzing the significance of specific words, including “word” itself, with specific attention to the Bible and Shakespeare. We will also examine the extraordinary dissemination of innovative words in Early Modern Europe and America, including “cannibal” and “fetish.” Among the texts that we will read will be works by Las Casas, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Donne. All the texts will be available in English and we will pay particular attention to the massive range of translations from the period.
We will draw wherever possible on the exceptional collections at Penn and in Philadelphia, including several dramatic examples of censored books.