This course tests the usefulness of assemblage theory, actor network theory, and similar approaches, for our understanding of international relations in the English Renaissance. Our primary focus will be on the work of a number of Renaissance literary authors who depict a variety of forms international interaction--dynastic conquest, colonial or imperial expansion, exploration, commerce, intellectual exchange, and so forth. We will approach such questions in relation to texts by authors such as Thomas More, Thomas Nashe, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Cary, and John Milton. The syllabus will place these authors in dialogue with a number of early modern political theorists and the work of a range of contemporary scholars contributing to, impacted by, or adjacent to assemblage theory—including works by Saskia Sassen, Michael DeLanda, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Anna Haupt Tsing, Elizabeth Povinelli, and others. A primary goal of the course will be to develop resources both for nuancing our understanding of the constitution of geopolitical life, and for gauging the difference such a frame of reference makes for understanding Renaissance literature.
MA-Lit Course Designation: Literature Before 1800, B (Technologies/Epistemologies), D (Cultures/Politics/Histories)