This course is an intensive study of some representative English literary works of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Our approach to these works will be chronological, and our interests multi-layered. We will examine English culture from the late fourteenth to the mid seventeenth century, beginning with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and ending with Milton's Paradise Lost. As we proceed, we will return again and again to the same set of questions. How does the idea of the self evolve during this time? How are contemporary social issues reflected and, just as strikingly, sometimes not reflected in the literary texts of a given period? How do writers explore concepts such as chivalry and marriage in the medieval and early modern eras? And how do issues of gender and sexuality inflect artistic representations of love, holiness, and monarchy? We will also concern ourselves with formal issues, including the manner in which genres such as lyric and epic remain recognizable over centuries even as their subject matter and aesthetic contours shift. Most importantly, we will develop reading and interpretive strategies that will further enhance our abilities to analyze literary and non-literary texts after this course is completed.
Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1 (Ninth Edition)
Two papers (each 5 pages in length) will each constitute 20% of a student's final grade. A midterm, (20%) and a take-home, final exam (20%) will require students to synthesize the material covered in class. Attendance in sections and lectures, participation in section discussions, and other assignments developed by the course's GSIs will also constitute an important component of a student's final grade (20%).
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