This prospective full-year course has not yet been offered. As it is presently very reading-intensive, the syllabus could be thinned out somewhat.
Course Description and Goals
This course is designed to familiarize students with the modes and genres of seventeenth-century English literature, including lyrics, elegies, epics, essays, sermons, masques, pamphlets, travelogues, ballads, biographies and memoirs.
We will read the major and minor canons of texts by women as well as by men. We will focus on the philosophical, aesthetic, religious, sociological and political discussions in which literature figured. We will consider the cultural debates from which literature emerged, and to which it contributed: the aims and limits of human inquiry; the dynamic between imitation and innovation; the praise and subjugation of women. And we will consider the performance and circulation of texts: in speech, in manuscript and in print.
This course is intended for third- or fourth-year undergraduates. Survey courses in literary history and reading poetry would be valuable prerequisites.
Other texts will be available online, or in a course reader.
Optional texts (excerpted in reader):
Course Calendar (2 terms; 26 weeks)
"[I]f any should like the world I have made, and be willing to be my subjects, they may imagine themselves such, ... But if they cannot endure to be subjects, they may create worlds of their own, and govern themselves as they please." (Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World)
"Poetry and pictures are arts of a like nature, and both are busy about imitation." (Ben Jonson, Discoveries)