E 392M • 16th Century: Literature & History
This course will provide an introduction to historicist study of 16th-century English literature. It will present both familiar and unfamiliar texts, writers, and genres, and will include substantial attention to the materials of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary I as well as to the more familiar matter of Elizabeth I. Texts of a "literary" and "historical" nature will be read concurrently throughout. Since the course will also function to some degree as an introduction to the period, representations of the cultural center will make up the core of the class.
Reading units (specific texts tentative):
(1) The reign of Henry VIII (1509-47): absolutist rule; the English Reformation; the Dissolution of the Monasteries; aristocratic manuscript poetry and life-records.
Roper. Life of More
Cavendish. Life of Wolsey
data from Howell's State Trials (trials of the king's wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard for sexual treason; Earl of Surrey for trespass on royalty)
Scarisbrick, J. J. Henry VIII
(2) The mid-century reigns of Edward VI and Mary I (1547-1558): Protestant and Catholic extremism
Foxe. Acts and Monuments (the "Book of Martyrs"): execution of Latimer and Ridley
Anon. Arden of Faversham (a 1590s staging of a 1555 murder linked to the Dissolution)
(3) The reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603): courtesy and social mobility; politics and erotics; dynastic pressures; usurpation, rebellion, and civil war
Castiglione. The Book of the Courtier
Gascoigne. Adventures of Master F. J.
Sidney. The Lady of May; Astrophil & Stella; letters
Stubbes, A Gaping Gulf
Kyd. The Spanish Tragedy
Marlowe. Edward II
Shakespeare. Richard II; Henry IV, Part One; Sir John Oldcastle; Henry VIII
the Essex rebellion: data from Howell, and from Bacon's Life and Letters
other data on Essex's followers having the King's Men stage Richard II on the night before the rebellion.
other data on the Oldcastle controversy
the Howard-Overbury affair and Middleton's plays
Stone, Lawrence. The Crisis of the Aristocracy (abridged ed.)
Keith Wrightson. English Society, 1580-1680.