Renaissance Literature B

Module code: EN2320 (double module)

This module introduces you to the landmark texts of the English Renaissance (excluding drama). They reflect the impact of the new humanist learning pioneered in Italy, of the discoveries in the New World, of the new medium of print, and of the controversies that followed the Reformation. Much of the module is designed to help you grasp  how the religion and politics of the period informed its literature. The module places special emphasis on the “material” dimension of the Renaissance, including the movement of people and ideas, conceptions of the body, the physical features of texts, and the business of writing. 

You will be studying More’s Utopia, a work that pioneered a genre that inspires writers to this day, the poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was largely responsible for introducing the sonnet to England, and whose work offers bitter and rueful reflections on love and politics at the court of Henry VIII. Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander, a dazzling example of the Elizabethan erotic narrative that came into vogue in the 1590s, one or more of the great sonnet sequences of the period, including Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the poetry of John Donne, arguably the most intense and rewarding of the so-called “metaphysical” poets, whether writing in a sacred or profane mode will be explored. Finally, you will be introduced to the full scope and complexity of the greatest poem in the language, Paradise Lost, by John Milton, perhaps English literature’s greatest radical and revolutionary.

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