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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2010

E 379S • Senior Seminar—Imaginary Places: Utopia, Paradise, and the New World in Renaissance Literature-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35140 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
PAR 302

Course Description

How did the discovery of the Americas alter the literary map of the Renaissance world? In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, the reimagined globe inspired authors to explore the social and political landscape of their own world by creating fictional places and alternative realities based on scientific reasoning, leaps of fancy, or some combination of the two. In this course, we will think critically about the representation of these imagined worlds, the most famous of which—Sir Thomas More's Utopia—resulted in an eponymous genre still popular today. We will query the generic classification of utopian fiction and its literary and political effects by reading sixteenth- and seventeenth-century examples alongside poems and plays that similarly depict new or ideal worlds, but are rarely characterized as utopian. Our primary focus will be early modern English literature, but we will also read classical and Biblical source texts, and we will end the course with a graphic novel that reimagines the fictional places mapped by Renaissance authors. Throughout the course, we will remain conscious of how our texts and the worlds they contain reflect on issues ranging from religious conflict and international politics to book history and the development of the new science. How did authors engage the central questions of their historical moment on imaginary islands and in the gardens of Paradise? In order to help us answer this question and to facilitate the development of your final research paper, we will also read selected secondary materials and discuss effective research tools and methodologies.

Grading Policy

Assignments will include an essay (5 pages), a research paper (10-12 pages), a paper prospectus, an oral presentation, and informal weekly response papers. Attendance and engaged participation are mandatory. Essay: 25%; Research Paper: 40%; Research Paper Prospectus: 5%; Oral Presentation: 5%; Weekly Responses: 15%; Participation: 10%


Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis and selected essays; Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World; Lucy Hutchinson, Order and Disorder, selections; John Milton, Paradise Lost, selections; Thomas More, Utopia; William Shakespeare, The Tempest; Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, selections; Selected poems: Sidney, Donne, Bradstreet, Marvell; Selected prose: Columbus, Hakluyt, Ralegh


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