T C 357 • The Comic Renaissance: The View From Below-W
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
This course aims to introduce students to a particular view of the Renaissance that runs counter to the usual definition of the period that is inscribed in its name. Typically, it is defined as the rebirth ("renaissance" in French) of antiquity, with the stress being placed on its imitation of canonical ancient texts and on the employment of classical models from what might be called the "high" periods of ancient Greece (5th and 6th centuries BCE) and ancient Rome (the age of Augustus). Instead, we will be looking at the Renaissance in terms of its employment and adaptation of the folk traditions of the Middle Ages, traditions which were in some ways quite anti-classical and which stressed "low" genres such as comedy, farce, and satire, as well as "low" characters such as tricksters, fools, and clowns. We will read a couple of theoretical essays near the start of the course and will then read a range of comic writing that will include both narrative materials (short stories and novels) and dramas (farces and various kinds of comedy) written between about 1350 and the 1660s.
About the Professor: Professor Rebhorn works on Renaissance literature, rhetoric, and culture in general. He holds a doctorate from Yale University in Comparative Literature and has written books on Castiglione, Machiavelli, and Renaissance rhetoric and literature as well as numerous articles on such writers as Boccaccio, Erasmus, More, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Jonson, and Milton. He has won fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation as well as the Howard R. Marraro Prize of the Modern Language Association for his book on Machiavelli. Among his hobbies are: classical music, movies, cooking, handball, and tennis.
Students will have two options with regard to their written work in the course: two essays, one around 6 or 7 pages, and one twice that length; or three essays around 6 or 7 pages. Each student will also be expected to be class discussion leader at least three times, including the times when he or she will be preparing an essay.
The Decameron, Boccaccio Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais Several plays by Shakespeare A couple of picaresque novels Volpone and The Alchemist, Jonson Tartuffe and The Misanthrope, Molière