This course considers writing by and about women during the English renaissance. We will read texts across genre, form, and media for how they create and enforce gender expectations alongside sexuality, class, and race. We will read literary texts by prominent authors of the period, including Mary Wroth, William Shakespeare, Edmund Spencer, and Aemilia Lanyer, as well as writing by political leaders of the period, including Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I, Queen of England. We will also read an assortment of popular songs, pamphlets, tracts, and legal documents that considered the role of women in society as leaders, workers, witches, mistresses, and lovers. These readings will be supported by a range of critical and historical materials to enrich our discussions. No prior experience with early modern literature is expected or required.
The Junior Research Seminar is designed to involve students in the kinds of research that literary studies demands. This includes working with primary sources and archival materials. This semester, we will work with Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in Van Pelt Library to consider the material culture through which our texts emerged. We will practice finding, reading, and analyzing critical and theoretical materials. We will also practice writing about the debates that surround our objects of study. The use of online tools will help illuminate additional aspects of Renaissance culture. However, we will also produce our own digital content that shares our course discoveries and interests with a larger, virtual audience. Assignments will include research exercises that culminate in a final project designed independently by students. These research agendas will develop into either a final creative project or a scholarly essay of 10-15 pages.