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

Fall 2004

E 376L • Renaissance Impersonations: Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Others

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33135 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
PAR 103

Course Description

This course will presuppose—as Chaucer and Shakespeare presupposed—that the mind (like a thesaurus) is a storehouse of analogues and options, that “invention” is the process of considered retrieval of what is stored (such as it is) and that self is an invented thing, something pulled out (as well as can be) from the “places” of invention. (This is very different from the later romantic notion of self.) In other words, being a self, for Chaucer’s characters and for Shakespeare’s, is a lot like getting dressed, like impersonating oneself; and what is most fascinating is when the wardrobe is limited and characters have to make-do with what is available. THIS is the psychological drama of characterization for these writers. We will try to read works not already read by members of the seminar.

Grading Policy

We will write eight papers, seven shorties and one biggy. Provided you accept responsibility for participating in every class, your grade will be no lower than the average of your seven shorties (each worth 7%) and your biggy (worth 51%). We will meet every MWF except Sept. 2. (And yes, of course, I excuse you for holy days.)


Chaucer's Wife of Bath, ed. Biedler
Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Shoaf
Erasmus' Praise of Folly, trans. Dean
Edmund Spenser's Poetry, ed. MacLean
Webster's Duchess of Malfi
Ford's 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
I also expect you to possess Shakespeare's plays, preferably the Norton Complete.


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