The first vision of a utopia. The first English sonnets. The first English epic. The new medium of the public theater. The sixteenth century in England saw the invention of some of our most beloved and interesting literary forms, by some of the best writers who have ever lived. This course surveys major works in sixteenth-century English literature, starting with Thomas More’s Utopia and ending with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and including authors such as Thomas Wyatt, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, and more. We will study a number of historical developments crucial to understanding literature of the period, including courtiership and self-advancement; humanism and rhetoric; literacy and education; gender and the changing status of women; monarchy and patronage; popular culture and the stage; and exploration and the growth of empire. Finally, we will consider how sixteenth-century literature pops up in contemporary pop culture, from The Tudors to The Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones to internet memes about politics. Course requirements will include weekly discussion posts, two papers, and two exams.
This course is restricted to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors.
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