EL 202: Renaissance Rebels


Dr. Ethan Guagliardo
Monday 2:00-3:50, TB 490
Wednesday 1:00-1:50, TB 415

Spring 2019

Office Hours, TB 475: Wednesday 2:00-3:00; 4:00-5:00 and by appointment

Course Description
The word “Renaissance” conjures up images of revolution, of overthrowing the old and ushering in the new. This period sees the discovery of the New World, the rise of literary humanism, and the Protestant revolt against Roman Catholicism. But the concept of the “Renaissance”–along with that of the “Medieval”–was for the most part an invention of the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, 16th- and 17th-century Europe was broadly continuous with the “Middle Ages”. The people were no less plague-ridden, and monarchs no less powerful; piety was never more fervent, and superstition never more terrible (more witches were burned during this time than any other). And yet something was surely changing, enough that scholars today usually describe the “Renaissance” as the “early modern” period. In this course, we will explore the continuities and discontinuities that compose the early modern world through the figure of the rebel. Did rebels think of themselves as rebels? Do early modern plays and poems have sympathy for the devil and his fellow-travellers, the rakes, rogues, and libertines of the period? If the early modern period can be described as a period of “revolutions”, were these revolutions oriented toward the new, or were they rather nostalgic, seeking a return to an imagined past?  

Participation: 15%
Short papers: 40%
Midterm: 20%
Final: 25%


Participation: Students are required to participate in this class–that includes showing up, offering opinions, and completing all assignments.
Short papers: 4 pages each, please follow prompts. Some papers will require you to make use of the EEBO-TCP database.
Midterm/Final: There are no quizzes in this class. Exams will test reading knowledge.

Course Packet (available at library copy center)
John Milton, Paradise Lost(available at bookstore)
Recommended Readings

Week 1
Monday, Feb. 11th          Introduction
Wed., Feb. 13th             Martin Luther, from The Freedom of a ChristianThe Art of Disagreeing Badly (an interactive exhibit)

Recommended readings: Richard Strier,  “Martin Luther and the Real Presence in Nature”

Week 2
Monday, Feb. 15th         Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, read first half
Wed, Feb. 17th               Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, read second half

Recommended Readings: Leah Marcus, “Marlowe’s Magic Books”, in Marlowe in Context; Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, chapter 5.

Week 3
Monday, Feb. 25th        Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
Wed, Feb. 27th              Thomas Middleton, The Revengers Tragedy, Acts 1-2

Recommended: Lawrence Danson, “Christopher Marlowe: Questioner”, ELR 12 (1982): 3-29.

Paper 1 Due Friday Feb. 29th.

Week 4
Monday, Mar. 4th           Thomas Middleton, The Revengers Tragedy, Acts 3-4
Wed, Mar. 6th                 Middleton, The Revengers Tragedy, Act 5

Recommended: Steven Mullaney, “Mourning and Misogyny: Hamlet, The Revenger’s Tragedy, and the Final Progress of Elizabeth I, 1600–1607,” Shakespeare Quarterly 45 (1994): 139–62.


Week 5
Monday, Mar.11th           Middleton, The Revengers Tragedy
Wed, Mar. 13th                John Donne, from Songs and Sonnets

Week 6
Monday, Mar. 18th           John Donne, from Songs and Sonnets
Wed, Mar. 20th                 Aemlia Lanyer, from Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum 

Note: This week will have to be rescheduled, as I will be attending the Renaissance Society of America Conference in Toronto.

Recommended reading: Jonathan Post, “Irremediably Donne”, from English Lyric Poetry: The Early Seventeenth Century.

Paper 2 Due Friday Mar. 22nd.

Week 7
Monday, Mar. 25th          John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, 1-2
Wed, Mar. 27st                 Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, 3-4

Recommended reading: Frances Dolan, “‘Can this be certain?’: The Duchess of Malfi’s Secrets,” in The Duchess of Malfi: A Critical Guide(2011)

Week 8
Monday, Apr. 1st          Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, 5
Wed, Mar. 3rd               Webster, The Duchess of Malfi

Week 9
Monday, Apr. 8th           Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1.
Wed, Apr. 10th               Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 1-2.

Paper 3 due Friday April 12th.

Week 10
Monday, Apr. 15th         Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 2.
Wed, Apr. 17th               Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 2-3.

Recommended reading: from David Quint, Inside Paradise Lost.

                                                Spring Break

Week 11
Monday, Apr. 29th        Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 3-4.
Wed, May 1st                 Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 4-6.

Recommended reading: from Gordon Teskey, Delirious Milton.

Week 12
Monday, May 6th           Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 8.
Wed, May 8th                 Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 8-9. Read: Genesis 2-3

Week 13
Monday, May 13th          Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 9.
Wed, May 15th               Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 10; 12.574-end.

Paper 4 due Wednesday May 15th.

Final Exam TBA

Student Resources


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