Renaissance Field Examination

The purpose of this exam is to have students demonstrate their command over the primary texts that define the English (and European) Renaissance as well as secondary works that might be described as classic or foundational and those more recent ones that could be considered transformational. Students will select the particular sets of texts for their exams under the supervision of three faculty members who serve on the examining panel of the field exam. In general, students should be aiming for broad coverage both of every sort of Renaissance literature from the beginning to the end of the period and of critical and historical approaches. Altogether, students will compile a list of 50-60 primary texts and approximately 20 secondary texts. Although students will primarily be drawing their texts from the lists below, they may also make substitutions with faculty approval.

From the lists below, students should select approximately half of the 62 asterisked primary texts for their exam; these should include works by Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, as well as works of poetry, prose, and drama. An additional 20 to 30 works either taken from the Renaissance lists or coming from outside those lists will be chosen by students with the approval of the faculty members on their examining panel; these works will normally be chosen so as to reflect students' particular research interests, although breadth of exposure should still be the guiding principle. Students may replace five of the asterisked primary texts on their list with texts taken from the sections below entitled "Important Classical and Continental Texts" and "Other Important English Texts," and they may also include five more such texts among the additional 20 to 30 texts they will select.  Finally, students are to select approximately 20 secondary works for the exam; these must be taken from the lists provided below and must include a minimum of five from the "Foundational" and five from the "Recent" lists, although students may add five works of their own choosing as well.

Primary Texts


Skelton. Selected lyrics.

Wyatt. Selected lyrics and satires.*

Surrey. Selected lyrics.*

Sackville. Selections from A Mirror for Magistrates.

Gascoigne. Selected lyrics from The Posies and The Steel Glass.

Elizabeth I. Selected lyrics (and other works).

Marlowe. The Passionate Shepherd,* Hero and Leander.*

Ralegh. Selected lyrics.

Sidney, Philip.  Astrophil and Stella,* Certain Sonnets 31 and 32, lyrics from Arcadia.

Sidney, Mary. Selected Psalms.

Spenser. The Shepherd's Calendar,* Amoretti (selections),* Epithalamion,* The Faerie Queene (Book 1 and one other book).*

Shakespeare. The Sonnets,* Venus and Adonis,* The Rape of Lucrece,* other lyrics.

Davies. Orchestra, Nosce Teipsum.

Donne. Songs and Sonets,* Holy Sonnets,* Elegies (selections),* selections from the Satires and Verse Letters, The First Anniversary,* selected religious lyrics.

Marston. The Scourge of Villainy.

Jonson. Selected lyrics from the Epigrams, The Forest, Underwood, "To the memory…Shakespeare"*

Fulke Greville. Selections from Caelica.

Daniel. Selections from The Civil Wars.

Drayton. Selections from Endimion and Phoebe, Poly-Olbion.

Lanyer. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum.

Wroth. Selections from Pamphilia to Amphilanthus.

Herrick. Selections from Hesperides and Noble Numbers.*

Herbert. The Temple.*

Carew. Selected lyrics.

Shirley. Selected lyrics.

Bradstreet. A Dialogue Between Old England and New.

Suckling. Selected lyrics.

Traherne. Selected lyrics.

Vaughan. Selected lyrics.

Crashaw. Selected lyrics.

Lovelace. Selected lyrics.

Cowley. Selected lyrics.

Cavendish. Selected lyrics.

Whitney. Selected lyrics.

Marvell. Selected lyrics.*

Milton, On the Morning of Christ's Nativity, On Shakespeare, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso,* Comus, selected sonnets,* Lycidas,* Paradise Lost,* Paradise Regained, Samson Agonistes.*

Philips. Selected lyrics.

Bradstreet. Selected lyrics.


More. Utopia (Robinson translation).*

Elyot. The Book of the Governor.*

Lyly. Euphues.*

Gascoigne. The Adventures of Master F. J.,* Certain Notes of Instruction.*

Deloney. Jack of Newbury.

Sidney. The Defence of Poesy,* The Old Arcadia or The New Arcadia.*

Ralegh. The discoverie of the large and bewtiful empire of Guiana.

Lodge. Rosalynde.

Greene. Pandosto.

Puttenham. The Art of English Poesy.*

Nashe. The Unfortunate Traveler.*

Daniel. A Defense of Rhyme.

Bacon. The Essays,* The New Atlantis,* other works.

Fulke Greville. The Life of Sidney.

Cavendish. The Blazing World.

Thorton. Autobiography.

Josceline. The Mother’s Legacy to Her Unborn Child.

Haec Vir; Hic Mulier, etc.

Donne. Selections from Devotions.

Jonson. Selections from Conversations with Drummond.

Peacham. The Compleat Gentleman.

Burton. The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Browne. Religio medici, Hydriotaphia, selections from Pseudodoxia Epidemica.

Milton. Areopagitica,* Of Education, other prose works.

Hobbes. Selections from Leviathan.


Skelton. Magnificence.

Heywood. The Four PP.

Mr. S. Gammer Gurton's Needle.

Udall. Ralph Roister Doister.

Sackville and Norton. Gorboduc.

Preston. Cambyses.

Lyly. Endymion.*

Kyd. The Spanish Tragedy.*

Marlowe. Tamburlaine, Parts 1 and 2,* The Jew of Malta or Edward II,* Doctor Faustus.*

Greene. Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay.

Anonymous. Arden of Faversham.

Nashe. Summer's Last Will and Testament.

Anonymous. Mucedorus.

Shakespeare. Richard III,* Richard II,* Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2,* Henry V,* A Midsummer Night's Dream,* any three other comedies, Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar,* Hamlet,* Othello,* King Lear,* Macbeth,* Antony and Cleopatra or Coriolanus,* The Winter's Tale,* The Tempest.*

Dekker. The Shoemaker's Holiday.

Heywood. A Woman Killed with Kindness.

Jonson. Volpone,* The Alchemist,* Epicoene or Bartholomew Fair*

Marston. The Dutch Courtesan, The Malcontent.

Chapman. Bussy d'Ambois.

Dekker and Middleton. The Roaring Girl.

Middleton. The Revenger's Tragedy, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, Women Beware Women.

Cary. The Tragedy of Mariam.*

Middleton and Rowley. The Changeling.*

Anonymous. Swetnam the Woman-Hater.

Webster. The Duchess of Malfi,* The White Devil.

Beaumont and Fletcher. A King and No King.

Beaumont. The Knight of the Burning Pestle.

Ford. 'Tis Pity She's a Whore,* The Broken Heart, Perkin Warbeck.

Massinger. A New Way to Pay Old Debts.

Shirley. Hyde Park.

Important Classical and Continental Texts

Aristotle. Poetics.

Calvin. Institutes.

Castiglione. The Book of the Courtier (Hoby translation).

Cicero. De Oratore, De Amicitia, De Officiis, De Senectute.

Erasmus. The Praise of Folly (Chaloner translation), Colloquies: "The Shipwreck," "The Wooer and the Maiden," "The Godly Feast," Adages, On Free Will.

Homer. Iliad, Odyssey (trans. Chapman).

Horace. Art of Poetry, Satires, Odes.

Luther. The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, The Freedom of a Christian, The Bondage of the Will, Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.

Machiavelli. The Prince.

Montaigne. Essays (Florio translation): "Of Education," "Of Cannibals," "Of Friendship," "Apology for Raymond Sebond," "Of Presumption," "Of Repentance," "Of Vanity," "Of Experience."

Ovid. Metamorphoses (trans. Golding and Sandys [1637 ed.]; key books 1 and 10).

Petrarch, Rime Sparse (Durling translation), "The Ascent of Mont Ventoux," On his own Ignorance and that of Others 

Pico della Mirandola. Oration on the Dignity of Man.

Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans (North translation), selected essays from the Moralia, (Holland translation).

Rabelais. Gargantua and Pantagruel. (WR)

Seneca. Tragedies (Newton translation), selected essays and letters.

Tacitus. Annals, Histories.

Virgil. Aeneid, "Fourth Eclogue."

Other Important English Texts

The Admonitions to Parliament (1571).

The Bible (the 1611 King James version, the 1560 Geneva version).

The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England; The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.

Certain Sermons or Homilies, appointed to be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen Elizabeth (1547, 1571).

E., T. The Law's Resolution of Women's Rights (1602?).

Foxe. Acts and Monuments.

Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain.

Hakluyt. The Principal Navigations.

Harrison. The Description of England.

Holinshed. Chronicles.

Hooker. The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: Preface to Book 1 and Book 1.

A Mirror for Magistrates.

Ponet. A Short Treatise of Politic Power.

The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (ed. John Nichols).

Stubbes. An Anatomy of Abuses.

The Statutes of the Realm, from Magna Carta to the End of the Reign of Queen Anne (London 1810-28).

Stow. Survey of London.

Foundational Critical Works

Allen, Don Cameron. Doubt's Boundless Sea.

Ariès, Philippe and Georges Duby (eds.), A History of Private Life.

Barber, C. L. Shakespeare's Festive Comedy.

Barrish, Jonas. The Antitheatrical Prejudice.

Bentley, G. E.  The Jacobean and Caroline Stage. 7 vols.

Bevington, David.  From "Mankind" to Marlowe.

Bolgar, R. R.  The Classical Heritage.

Bowers, Fredson.  Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy.

Bradbrook, Muriel.  Themes and Conventions of Elizabethan Tragedy.

Bradley, A. C.  Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth.

Burke, Peter. Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe.

Bush, Douglas.  Mythology and the Renaissance Tradition in English Poetry.

Calderwood, James.  Metadrama in Shakespeare's Henriad: Richard II to Henry V.

Cavell, Stanley.  "The Avoidance of Love: A Reading of King Lear."  In Must We Mean What We Say?

Chambers, E. K.  The Elizabethan Stage.  4 vols.

Cope, Jackson I.  The Theater and the Dream: From Metaphor to Form in Renaissance Drama.

Davis, Natalie Z. and Arlette Farge (eds.), A History of Women in the West.

Elton, W. R.  King Lear and the Gods.

Empson, William. Seven Types of Ambiguity.

Fiedler, Leslie. The Stranger in Shakespeare.

Fineman, Joel. Shakespeare’s Perjured Eye.

Finkelpearl, Philip.  John Marston of the Middle Temple: An Elizabethan Dramatist in His Social Setting.

Fish, Stanley. Surprised by Sin, Self-Consuming Artifacts.

Gurr, Andrew. Playgoing in Shakespeare's London.

Haydn, Hiram.  The Counter-Renaissance.

Javitch, Daniel.  Poetry and Courtliness in Renaissance England.

Jones, Ernest. Hamlet and Oedipus.

Kernan, Alvin.  The Cankered Muse.

Mack, Maynard.  "King Lear" in Our Time.

Martz, Louis.  The Poetry of Meditation.

Mazzeo, Joseph. Renaissance and Revolution.

Ong, Walter. Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue.

Panofsky, Erwin. Renaissance and Renaissances in Western Art.

Rabkin, Norman. Shakespeare and the Problem of Meaning.

Seznec, Jean. Survival of the Pagan Gods.

Tillyard, E. M. W.  The Elizabethan World Picture.

Trinkaus, Charles. In Our Image and Likeness.

Tuve, Rosamond. Elizabethan and Metaphysical Poetry.

Wellsford, Enid. The Fool: His Social and Literary History.

Wittkower, Rudolf. Born Under Saturn.

Yates, Frances. The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age.

Recent Critical Works

Adelman, Janet. Suffocating Mothers.

Altman, Joel. The Tudor Play of Mind.

Belsey, Catherine. The Subject of Tragedy.

Berger, Harry. The Allegorical Temper, Second World and Green World, Making Trifles of Terrors, Imaginary Audition.

Braden, Gordon.  Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger's Privilege.

-------- and William Kerrigan. The Idea of the Renaissance.

Bruster, Douglas. Drama and the Market in Shakespeare's Time, Shakespeare and the Question of Culture.

-------- and Robert Weimann. Prologues to Shakespeare's Theatre, Shakespeare and the Power of Performance.

Cohen, Walter.  Drama of a Nation: Public Theater in Renaissance England and Spain.

Dollimore, Jonathan.  Radical Tragedy.

--------, and Alan Sinfield (eds.).Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism.

Ferguson, Margaret. Trials of Desire: Renaissance Defenses of Poetry.

--------, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy Vickers (eds.). Rewriting the Renaissance: The     Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe.

Goldberg, Jonathan. James I and the Politics of Literature, Sodometries.

Grafton, Anthony and Lisa Jardine. From Humanism to the Humanities.

Greenblatt, Stephen.  Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Shakespearean Negotiations, Marvelous Possessions, Will in the World.

Greene, Thomas. The Light in Troy, The Vulnerable Text: Essays on Renaissance Literature.

Hall, Kim. Things of Darkness.

Helgerson, Richard.  Self-Crowned Laureates: Spenser, Jonson, Milton, and the Literary System, Forms of Nationhood.

Hill. Christopher. Collected Essays, vol. 1, The English Bible and the Seventeenth-Century Revolution.

Jardine, Lisa. Still Harping on Daughters.

Kahn, Coppélia.  Man's Estate: Masculine Identity in Shakespeare.

Kelly, Joan Gadol. Women, History, Theory.

Loomba, Ania. Post-Colonial Shakespeares.

Lupton, Julia. Citizen-Saints.

Mallin, Eric. Inscribing the Time.

Marcus, Leah. The Politics of Mirth, Puzzling Shakespeare, Unediting the Renaissance.

Maus, Katherine.  Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance.

McCoy, Richard. The Rites of Knighthood, Alterations of State.

Montrose, Louis. The Purpose of Playing, The Subject of Elizabeth.

Mullaney, Steven. The Place of the Stage.

Orgel, Stephen.  The Illusion of Power, Impersonations.

Parker, Patricia. Inescapable Romance, Literary Fat Ladies, Shakespeare from the Margins.

Paster, Gail. The Body Embarrassed.

Rebhorn, Wayne A.  The Emperor of Men's Minds.

Rumrich, John. Milton Unbound.

Sedgwick, Eve. Between Men.

Shapiro, James. Shakespeare and the Jews.

Simpson, James. Reform and Cultural Revolution. The Oxford English Literary History: Volume 2: 1350-1547. Oxford UP, 2004. (Consult the Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies for Winter 2005, a special issue devoted to discussing this book.)

Stallybrass, Peter and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression.

Strier, Richard. Love Known, Resistant Structures.

Traub, Valerie. Desire and Anxiety.

Weimann, Robert. Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater.

Whigham, Frank.  Ambition and Privilege.

Wojciehowski, Dolora (Hannah). New Masters, Old Subjects.

Worthen, William. The Idea of the Actor.