Department of English

University of Toronto

2000 Series 2011-12


Course Description:

Song, the product of the human body as instrument, negotiates the boundary between literary text and musical performance. In focusing on the intersections between gender and song, this seminar draws attention to the multiple functions of song in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as lyric text, as musical genre, and as moments of embodied performance within specific acoustic, social, and textual environments. Engaging with a growing area of scholarship that has begun to assess song as a cultural and political signifier amid the soundscapes of early modern England, we will explore how gender shapes the affective impact of song within a range of textual and acoustic settings. Our discussions will encompass topics such as the physiological production and reception of musical sound; song and affect; the transmission and circulation of song in print, manuscript, and performance; the function of song in plays, masques, and other entertainments; ballads and street songs; the role of women writers and performers in early modern song culture; and intersections among secular and sacred song. By considering song both as text and as situated and gendered musical practice, this seminar aims to interrogate the literary and cultural significance of song in early modern England.

Reading List:

Readings will include Francis Bacon's Sylva Sylvarum; Baldesar Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier; John Calvin’s Preface to the Geneva Psalter; Mary Sidney Herbert's psalm translations; John Milton's A Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle; selected songs from the plays of William Shakespeare and Margaret Cavendish; Richard Brome's The Northern Lass; Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilanthus and The Countess of Montgomery's Urania; broadside ballads; selected musical settings; and critical and theoretical work by Linda Austern, Roland Barthes, Gina Bloom, Judith Butler, Leslie Dunn, Katherine Larson, Bruce Smith, and Amanda Winkler.

Course Requirements:

Active and informed participation in seminar discussion (10%); "conference" paper presentation (25%); two response papers/reviews (15%); and a final research essay (15-20 pages) (50%).

Date & Time: Thursday 1 – 3 pm
Room: JHB 617, Jackman Humanities Building

JEH2020HF (*was formerly listed as ENG2020HF
(*NOTE: This course is also posted under Cross Listed Courses here.)

The early modern period was fundamentally shaped by waves of human migration unprecedented in western European history. From the expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) to the flight of the Huguenots from France (culminating in the late 1680s), European Christian culture sought to protect its changing notions of religious purity by expelling and/or enclosing the Other, thereby triggering an ongoing diasporic discourse. In addition to migrations catalyzed by religion, the movement of people from rural to urban centers transformed many of Europe’s cities into crowded and diversely constituted metropolises. This seminar will explore exile, refugeeism, and diaspora across literary and historical texts and contexts. We will familiarize ourselves with a range of current theories and approaches to the study of diaspora with the aim of developing methodologies for investigating the diasporic discourses engendered by real and imagined experiences of early modern exile. As a cross-disciplinary seminar, we will draw upon texts, methods, and critical theories that inform both historical and literary critical approaches to this topic. We welcome students in English, History, Comparative Literature, and Religion.

Questions we will consider include: In what ways is the current critical discourse regarding diaspora useful for a study of exile and refugeeism in the context of a pre-nationalized Europe? How did English dramatic literature represent the dynamics of exile and how did exiles participate in shaping English literature in this period? In an era when English plays were censored for their explicit references to violence against strangers, how were ideas and ideals of tolerance also emerging? In what ways did the exile put definitional pressure on the civic categories governing access to citizenship and enfranchisement (such as citizen, stranger, denizen, alien, and naturalized subject)? We will also query the sometimes-celebratory tone of discussions of cultural mixing in order to ask how we can rethink these ideas and their attendant subject categories (the hybrid subject, the exile, the trans-national) in a more grounded and contextualized way. The interests of seminar participants will further shape our inquiries.

Seminar members will have the opportunity to participate in events related to the Jackman Humanities Institute 2011-2012 annual theme, “Location/Dislocation,” and may elect to present paper proposals to the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies conference (Spring 2012), “Exile, Expulsion, & Religious Refugees.”

Locating Exile, an archive-based assignment 10%.
Active and Informed Participation 20%.
Short Scholarly Paper (8-10 pp) & Presentation 20%.
Research Portfolio & Prospectus 50%.

Scheduling Note: It is a requirement of the seminar that all participants attend three Jackman Humanities Institute workshops during the course of the semester: “Theorizing Exile” Friday, September 17; “Location/Dislocation” Friday & Saturday, October 21-22; “Imperial States” Friday & Saturday, November 18-19. Attendance and participation in the October and November workshops will be in lieu of attending the regularly scheduled seminars on Thursday, October 20th and Thursday, November 17th.

Date & Time: Thursday - 3- 6 pm
Room: JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building


Course Description:

This course is an introduction to using (mostly) lyric poetry to think historically. A basic question will be lurking throughout: why bother reading poetry at all? Aside from being fun, what are its intellectual advantages? Hegel says in his Aesthetics that man "must know what the powers are which drive and direct him, and it is such a knowledge that poetry provides." Poetry, not poets: as Adorno (very much with Hegel in mind) argued in the 1950s, "we are concerned not with the poet as a private person, not with his psychology or his so-called social perspective, but with the poem as a philosophical sundial telling the time of history." How exactly does a poem act as a "philosophical sundial"? We will read just one poem: Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," and use it as a guide to know what powers "drive and direct" it. In other words, we will also read whatever the poem seems to require.

New Course Reading List:

Readings will probably include poetry by Petrarch, Wyatt, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Donne; Machiavelli, The Prince; Poggio, On True Nobility; misc. work by Luther and Calvin; as much Donne criticism as we can manage (certainly Marvell, Dryden, Johnson, Eliot, Brooks, Culler, Marotti, Docherty, Fish); and some current theoretical work on Kant, Hegel, aesthetics, and lyric in particular (Adorno, Jameson, Kaufman, Jackson).

Date & Time: Tuesday 3 – 6 pm
Room: JHB 614, Jackman Humanities Building

ENG 2467HS

Course Description:

The course comprises the study of a wide-ranging selection of early modern texts, literary and non-literary, with special emphasis on those of Milton in order to come to a better understanding of early modern nationalism. The course has three primary aims: (1) first, to identify and analyze the main features and cultural implications of early modern English nationalism; (2) second, to see how the skills developed in the practice of literary analysis may produce unique forms of historical knowledge; and (3) third, to develop those skills in reading complex texts and constructing both written and oral arguments.




All the books are available from the Bob Miller Bookroom (180 Bloor St West) and the Course Reader will be available from the English department.


Class participation 10%
Seminar presentation 35%
Research essay (5,000 words) 55%

Date & Time: Thursday 3 – 6 pm Winter term
Room: JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building


With literary theory having shifted attention away from the individual author, the canonical text, and the autonomous subject, the genre of the early modern letter becomes a fascinating site for exploring social discourse, marginal writings, and intersubjective identity formation. This course will explore the language of Renaissance letters in English and early modern English by way of the letter. It will consider the early modern culture of correspondence, with an emphasis on education in classical letters, material practices and contexts of letter-writing (e.g., italic vs. secretary hand, the role of scribes and messengers), networks of communication, the history of reading in relation to the letter, the gendered construction of letters, and archival preservation of correspondence. In addition to letters in print, we will explore possibilities for research on manuscript letters (both online and in archives). Some attention will be given to related literary forms (e.g., verse epistles by Donne and Jonson, the role of letters in plays by Shakespeare and contemporaries, early prototypes of the epistolary novel by Breton and others). For theoretical concepts and tools to analyse letters, this course will look both to modern-day social discourse theory (e.g., Bakhtin’s dialogism, Bourdieu’s economic model of linguistic exchange, politeness theory, conversational analysis); to medieval and early modern rhetorical handbooks on letter-writing (e.g., ars dictaminis, Erasmus, Angel Day); and to the growing body of scholarship in this burgeoning field of early modern letters.

Readings in the last half of the course will incorporate examples from the corpus of letters or epistolary material each class member chooses to work on. Assignments will include “issue sheets” about methodological readings, a brief exercise dipping into material letters and archival research, a “try-out” seminar testing an approach to one’s chosen corpus of letters (or letters in plays, epistolary poems, etc.), and a twenty-minute colloquium paper to be presented at the term-end symposium.

Date & Time: Wednesday, 3 – 6 pm
Room: ROOM CHANGE: JHB616 (exception Oct. 12: NF 007)


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