E 379S • Aspects of Love and Death in English Renaissance
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
As part of our University-directed self-assessment project, the English Department has initiated an ePortfolio program for English majors. You will be asked to submit, in electronic form, two documents--a one page essay on the English major and a copy of your final paper for the seminar. Additionally, you will be asked to complete a brief four question survey. During the semester, you will receive details from your instructor or from the English Department on completing the survey and submitting the documents on your senior seminar's Blackboard website.
In this class students will be introduced to various discourses about love and death in the literature of the English Renaissance, from Shakespeare to Milton. We will start with Medieval and Renaissance attitudes towards love and death in order to learn how to analyze the figurative language used by these poets, authors and playwrights. The course will treat the representations of love and death as historically located in a particular period rather than as 'universals', positing that each age obeys its own conventions, forms and cultural norms. The Renaissance literary experience of love and death was of course influenced by earlier perceptions and representations and some attention will be given to classical and medieval precedents in literature and iconography, as well as to continental models - Petrarch, for instance. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were times when plague, war, and religious and political instability made love, life and death seem even more ephemeral, which explains the overbearing presence of the Memento Mori tradition in the literature of the whole period. The study of the representative conventions of love and death will help historicize our reading of a selection of Elizabethan sonnets and plays by Shakespeare and others. We will also read extracts of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, a couple of sermons and a selection of poems by Donne and other poets, including Milton. A brief foray into early Romantic poetry will help us draw conclusions about the specificity of the period.
Students will be expected to prepare answers in advance to the questions that will be discussed in class.
One Essay during term 30%
Regular homework exercises, quizzes and class participation 40%
One in-class exam 30%
Attendance is mandatory. No incompletes.
A Selection of Elizabethan and Continental sonnets and Emblems by Geoffrey Whitney and George Wither
Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (extracts)
Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy (extracts)
A selection of poems by J. Donne, G. Herbert, H. King, R. Herrick, Waller and J. Suckling.
W. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night and Richard II (extracts); Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet (complete)
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
John Ford, 'Tis a Pity She's a Whore
John Milton, "Lycidas" and Paradise Lost (Books IV and IX)