EL 202 Syllabus


When and Where: Spring 2017
Tuesday 11:00-11:50, EF 06    Friday 15:00-16:50, M 1152

Office Hours: Thursday 1:00-3:00; Friday 2:00-3:00; 5:00-5:50, and by appointment (preferred).

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” 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 changing: it’s not for nothing that it’s called the “early modern” period. In this course, we will explore the continuities and discontinuities that compose the Renaissance / early modern world through the figure of the rebel. Did rebels think of themselves as rebels? What do we make of the sympathy for the devil, rakes, and other rogues we find in the plays and poems of the period?  Was revolution oriented toward “the new”, or was it rather nostalgic, a return to an imagined past of purity and justice? Along the way, we will think about the differences between such related concepts as revolution, radicalism, treason, and of course rebellion.


Participation: 15%
Quizzes: 10%
Short papers: 30%
Midterm: 20%
Final: 25%

Texts: Course Packet (available at library copy center)
John Milton, Paradise Lost (Modern Library); ISBN 0375757961

Recommended Readings can be found on the main page for this class.

Week 1

Tues, Feb. 7th   Introduction

Fri., Feb. 10th Martin Luther, from The Freedom of a Christian; Montaigne, “Of Repentance”.

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

Week 2

Tues, Feb. 14th Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

Fri, Feb. 17th   Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus

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

Week 3

Tues, Feb. 21st Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus.

Recommended readings: John Parker, “The Curious Sovereignty of Art”, from The Aesthetics of Antichrist.

Fri, Feb. 24th Edmund Spenser, “The Faerie Leveller,” from The Faerie Queene.

Paper 1 Due Monday Feb. 27.

Week 4

Tues, Feb. 28th Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Fri, Mar.  3rd Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Week 5

Tues, Mar. 7th Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Fri, Mar. 10th Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Week 6

Tues, Mar. 14th John Donne, from Songs and Sonnets

Fri, Mar. 17th John Donne, from Songs and Sonnets

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

Paper 2 Due Monday Mar. 20th.

Week 7

Tues, Mar. 21st John Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Fri, Mar. 24th John Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Recommended reading: Bruce Boehrer, “Nice Philosophy”: ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore and the Two Books of God,” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 24 (1984): 355-371

Week 8

Tues, Mar. 28th John Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Fri, Mar. 31st MIDTERM

Week 9

Tues, Apr. 4th John Ford, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Fri, Apr. 7th Levellers and Diggers: from Gerrard Winstanley, The Law of Freedom in a Platform or True Magistracy Restored.

Recommended reading: Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down. chapter 7.

Paper 3 due Monday April 10.

Week 10

Tues, Apr. 11th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1.

Fri, Apr. 14th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 1-2.

Recommended reading: David Quint, Inside Paradise Lost.

Spring Break

Week 11

Tues, Apr. 25th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 2-3.1-343.

Fri, Apr. 28th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 4.

Recommended reading: Gordon Teskey, Delirious Milton.

Week 12

Tues, May 2nd Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 5-6.

Fri, May 5th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 8-9.

Week 13

Tues, May 9th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 9.

Fri, May 12th Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 10; 12.574-end.

Paper 4 due Monday May 15.

Final Ezam TBA

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