Department of English

University of Toronto

2000 Series 2009-10

Graduate Courses - 2009 - 2010 Winter Session, 2000 Series


This course will revisit T.S. Eliot’s famous characterization of metaphysical poetry from the vantage point of recent new historicist, psychoanalytic, and phenomenological work in early modern studies. Eliot asserted that the metaphysical poets incorporated “erudition into their sensibility,” that their writing was marked by the “direct sensuous apprehension of thought.” Taking the poetry of John Donne (Songs and Sonets, Elegies, Divine Poems) and Andrew Marvell as case studies, we will read critical writing from the past decade on the early modern body and its environment (Garrett Sullivan, Mary Floyd-Wilson, Gail Kern Paster), cognition (John Sutton, Mary Thomas Crane), the senses (Bruce Smith), and the passions (Michael Schoenfeldt) alongside early modern treatises on these topics. We will consider formal and theoretical questions (metaphor, analogy, the gendering of style) in order to understand the poetry of Donne and Marvell in relation to ideas and theories in historical phenomenology.

One short (20-minute) oral presentation (25%), active participation in class discussion (10%), prospectus for research essay and bibliography (15%), and one research essay (15-20 pages) (50%).

Andrew Marvell, The Complete Poems
John Donne, The Complete English Poems of John Donne

Wednesday 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Room 376, University College


Much fervent debate of the past two decades has been fired the kiln of post-colonial and feminist concerns regarding race, ethnicity, and cultural identity in the early modern period. Taking the drama that has now become part of a canon of early modern race and ethnicity studies (Shakespeare’s Mediterranean plays and the so-called “Turk” plays) together with plays that are less widely interrogated for how they participate in shaping epistemologies of race and ethnicity in the period, we will explore how the post-colonial, feminist, and new historicist vantage points from which we recover ideas of race and ethnicity in the past enable and distort our discoveries. Beginning with Anthony Barthelemy’s Black Face, Maligned Race (1987) we will move through much of the critical writing that has shaped debate regarding the extent to which the theater of the English Renaissance developed racial, ethnic, and cultural taxonomies of difference that remain with us today.

Active and informed participation in the seminar (10%), two short oral presentations (one in which you lead a round-table discussion of a play of your choosing and another in which you frame the central questions and contributions of a piece of criticism (25%), prospectus for research essay and a bibliography (15%), one research essay (15-20 pages) (50%). Two hours. Seminar format.

A tentative list of readings will include plays by William Shakespeare, Thomas Middleton, John Marston, Thomas Dekker, Robert Daborne, and Elizabeth Cary. Critical theorist will include Ania Loomba, Mary Floyd-Wilson, Patricia Parker, James Shapiro, Kim Hall, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Peter Erickson, and John Gillies.

Thursday 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Room 614, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street


This course begins with the premise that close reading literature is a good way to rethink what class meant in the Renaissance, and that Renaissance literature is a good place for rethinking contemporary theories of social class. We will focus in particular on Poggio’s On Nobility, More’s Utopia, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Donne’s Songs and Sonnets, and Milton’s shorter poetry, especially Lycidas; other works will likely filter into the discussion. We will read these works alongside contemporary criticism by Derrida, Adorno, Zizek, Bourdieu, Habermas, Jameson, et al, along with classic historiography by Burckhardt, Tawney, Stone, and Brenner and the selected secondary literature for our primary texts. For the first class, please read Herbert’s sonnet “Redemption.”

Requirements will include weekly writing assignments (short close readings or short responses to articles: 25%); a detailed bibliographic essay (20%); a longer close reading (40%); and active and extensive class participation and engagement (15%).

Primary Texts: Poggio, On Nobility; More, Utopia; Shakespeare, Hamlet; Donne, Complete English Poems; Milton, The Major Works.

Secondary Texts: essays by Derrida, Adorno, Zizek, Bourdieu, Habermas, Jameson, Burckhardt, Tawney, Stone, and Brenner; essays specific to the primary texts.

Friday 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Room 617, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street


This course will examine selected late renaissance and early modern texts from Montaigne to Defoe. The texts have been chosen to explore a problem in literary history and theory: the emergence of several different kinds of representation from within the traditional practices of literary imitation. Theoretical writing on literature will be selected from a broad chronological range (from Plato to Derrida); as well, current writing on the topic will be used to stimulate and guide discussion. The course will concentrate on some of the following topics: the iconoclastic controversy of the sixteenth century; the beginnings of the novel in prose narratives of the late renaissance; artistic perspective and the norms of representation; the rise of representative government; authority and representation; representation and revenge; allegory and representation; representation and gender; paradoxes of reflexivity—the representation of representation, ekphrasis, “mise en abîme” (etc.); narcissism and the origins of psychoanalysis as a theory of representation; literary character and the question of subjectivity.

Two essays, one each term, 15 and 20 pages each, worth respectively, 30% and 40%; two seminar presentations, worth 15% each.

Shakespeare, Richard II, Hamlet, The Tempest Sonnets*; Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller; Cervantes, Don Quixote; Montaigne, Essays*; Descartes, Discourse on Method, Meditations*; Hobbes, Leviathan*; [Gauden], Eikon Basilike; Milton, Eikonaklastes, Paradise Lost; Marvell, Poems*; Molière, Dom Juan; Mme. De Lafayette, La Princesse de Clèves; Behn, Oroonoko; Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Roxana. * Selections Only

Wednesday 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Room 20, Birge-Carnegie Library, Victoria College


Since the early eighties – and even more so after the break-up of the Soviet Union – the study of nations and nationalism in the social sciences and humanities has moved center-stage. In literary studies, the field has been dominated by Benedict Anderson’s version of the modernization theories of Ernst Gellner and his student, Tom Nairn. Anderson’s 1983 account of the modern nation as a discursively constructed community whose imagined sense of continuity enables it to rival religion in affective power has been as influential as it has in literary studies precisely because of its emphasis on the nation’s construction being discursive or textual – that is, its emphasis on the modern nation being primarily a function of a print culture, “conceived in language, not in blood” (Imagined Communities [p.145]). This emphasis had the effect of reinforcing literary critics’ confidence in the importance of their textualist habits of thought and practice (whether post-structuralist or more traditional) by giving them a new socially oriented telos – a vitally important new focus through which to explain the cultural or ideological works of literature. No poet-cum-political theorist lends himself as easily to the exploration of the validity of these theories, especially Anderson’s, as John Milton. This course will examine the phenomenon of the early modern nation using Milton as a case study. In order to focus on the question of the modernity of Milton’s nationalism, then, the course will discuss such issues as (a) the rival claims of messianic time and a newly emergent sense of historicity, (b) Protestant universalism and the idealization of the exclusive biblical nation, (c) classical republicanism, civility and its idealization of the Roman imperium, (d) education, literacy, and print and their impact on individual identity and gender formation, and (e) custom and the rival claims of ethnic and civic nationalism. Early modern theorists to be discussed include Machiavelli, Sir Thomas Smith, Bodin, and Hobbes; contemporary theorist Anderson, Greenfeld, Zizek, and Hardt and Negri. Texts by Milton to be discussed include Areopagitica, Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, Observations, Eikonoklastes, First Defence of the English People, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes.

Active participation in discussion, seminar presentation, research essay, and colloquium paper (oral version of research essay).

Thursday 2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Room 718, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street

LONDON DRAMA, 1180-1590


A survey of Shakespeare's work and the modern critical tradition. We will read a representative selection of plays and discuss them in terms of a range of critical approaches: new criticism, historicism, performance criticism, textual criticism, new historicism, theoretical (e.g. Marxist, feminist, psychoanalytical) criticism, etc.

Short paper (20%), Presentation (20%), Research paper (50%), participation (10%).

Pelican Complete Shakespeare (we will read between 10 and 15 plays in class and students will be expected to read a few more for the research paper). Course reader containing critical articles.

Monday 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Room B203, University College


This course will focus on plays performed between 1604 and 1614 at one or both of two major Jacobean playhouses, the Globe, an amphitheatre (outdoor), and the Blackfriars, an auditorium (indoor). The plays to be studied have been chosen both because they are broadly representative in type and authorship and because they all offer interesting staging problems and possibilities. A selection of readings in theatre history and early staging will provide the context for discussions and analyses that will include such matters as: the playhouse (location, building, stage); the companies (boys’, men’s); the plays (authorship, text, subject matter, staging).

Course requirements: a 15-minute seminar presentation (20%), an annotated bibliography for the seminar (20%), Informed and regular participation in class discussion (10%); informed and regular contributions to close reading exercises (10%); a 15-page research paper (40%). The first two hours of each class will be devoted to seminar presentations and discussion; the third hour will focus on close reading of an assigned speech, scene, or part of a scene.

Class work will focus on 11 plays: Othello (Shakespeare), The Malcontent (Marston), The Widow’s Tears (Chapman), The Revenger’s Tragedy (Middleton?), The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Beaumont), Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare), Philaster (Beaumont and Fletcher), Cymbeline (Shakespeare), The Alchemist (Jonson), Henry VIII (Shakespeare and Fletcher), The Duchess of Malfi (Webster).

The final essay will include a play not discussed in class, such as: Measure for Measure (Shakespeare), Bussy D’Ambois (Chapman), The Dutch Courtesan (Marston), Sophonisba (Marston), Volpone (Jonson), Macbeth (Shakespeare), The Yorkshire Tragedy (anon.), The Maid’s Tragedy (Beaumont and Fletcher), The Tempest (Shakespeare), Two Noble Kinsmen (Shakespeare and Fletcher), The Witch (Middleton). A list of secondary materials will be distributed at the first class.

While there are no prerequisites, some previous study of early modern drama (at least Shakespeare) is strongly recommended.

Friday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Room 718, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street


In this course we will study Paradise Lost in the context of the major epic traditions, both ancient and early modern, on which it draws. Milton’s epics will be situated in the context of seventeenth century debates on colonialism, republicanism, nationalism and biblical exegesis. Students will be expected to read selected prose works by Milton together with contemporary critical and theoretical.

Facilitation and Participation (50%); Final Essay of 3000 words (50%).

The Oxford Authors John Milton, eds. Stephen Orgel and Jonathan Goldberg.

Tuesday 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Room B203, University College

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