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Introduction to Print Culture Reading, Writing, and Printing in Early Modern Europe

ENGL 234.401
crosslisted as: HIST 411
Mondays 2-5:00pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major


This course will examine the writing, printing, dissemination, and interpretation of some fundamental works specific and also of words, commonplaces, and proverbs in early modern England, France, Italy, Spain and the Americas. We will analyze both the persistence and changing significance of ancient words and concepts (e.g. “barbarian,” the world turned upside down) and the emergence of new words and concepts (e.g. “cannibal,” “sprezzatura”). Among the texts that we will read will be works by Montaigne, Las Casas, Shakespeare, Castiglione, and Lope de Vega. All the texts will be available in English but 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 early manuscripts, illustrated books, plays marked up for performance and examples of censored books.