Department of English

University of Toronto

2000 Level Courses

The Early Modern in the History of Science and Literature
L. Blake

Course Description:

This course is about the role that early modern literature and culture play in the disciplines of the history and philosophy of science. The early modern period holds a special place in the history of science, and studies of the meaning and nature of “Science” frequently return to early modern texts for their key ideas and terms. However, over the course of the term we will investigate what a detailed and serious consideration of literary texts from the early modern period adds to these standard histories of science. Scientific writing in this period, and scientific thought, grows out of modes of writing that we might now consider to be literary, even as it often takes pains to differentiate itself from literary writing. A historical understanding of the relationship between literature and science in the early modern period prepares us to discuss new possibilities for the study of literature and science in other historical periods. We will read classic works from science studies, the history of science, and the philosophy of science, alongside readings from a wide variety of literary, philosophical, and scientific texts from the English Renaissance.

Course Reading List:
Secondary works, including:

Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air Pump
Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern
Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and The Copernican Revolution
Steven Shapin, The Scientific Revolution
Amos Funkenstein, Theology and the Scientific Imagination
and other works by a variety of authors, including Robert Greene, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, William Gilbert, John Donne, Francis Bacon, Thomas Sprat, Abraham Cowley, Robert Boyle, Thomas Hobbes, Lucy Hutchinson, Margaret Cavendish, and Isaac Newton

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation -- 20%; Presentation -- 15%; Annotated bibliography / Final paper proposal -- 15%; Article-length paper -- 50%

Term:  S-Term (Spring Term - January - April 2016)
Date/Time:  Thursday, 9:00am - 11:00am,  2 hours
Location:  Room
JHB 616 NB: ROOM CHANGE (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2015-2016 Graduate Course Timetable. 

ENG2021HS (Cancelled)
The Global Renaissance
M. Nyquist

John Donne: Theory and Context
E. Harvey

Course Description:
This course will examine John Donne's poetry (Songs and Sonets, Elegies, Satires, verse letters, Anniversaries, Metempsychosis, Divine Poems) and some of his prose (selections from Ignatius his Conclave, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, and sermons) in relation to recent developments in literary theory, especially historical phenomenology, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and feminism. We will consider Donne’s cultural and historical context (the structure of professions, court and city, the Inns of Court, religion, emergent science), his relationships to patrons, particularly as they are addressed in his verse letters, the epithalamia, and in the Anniversaries, his constructions of and responses to gender, and his changing poetic and linguistic style (intertextuality, poetic form, poetic career). The course's concentration on subjectivity will allow us to investigate the imbrication of the seventeenth-century discourses of science, medicine, and the relationship between the body and the soul. In addition to reading Donne’s poetry and prose, we will include some theoretical and critical texts and pay significant attention to the history of Donne’s critical reception.

Course Reading List:
The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne, Ed. Charles M. Coffin, Modern Library, 2001.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
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%).

Term:  F-Term (Fall Term: September - December 2015)
Date/Time:  Wednesday,  1:00pm - 3:00pm,  2 hours
  Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2015-2016 Graduate Course Timetable. 

The Renaissance of Art
C. Warley

Course Description:

What is art? And when is art? In his recent book Aisthesis, Jacques Rancière maintains that “Art begins to be named as such, not by closing itself off in some celestial autonomy, but on the contrary by giving itself a new subject, the people, and a new place, history.” This course will think about the implications of Rancière’s arguments about art for the study of the (mostly English) Renaissance—and vice versa. “Art as such began to exist,” maintains Rancière, “when [the] hierarchy of forms of life began to vacillate.” One such vacillation is “the Renaissance”— both the historical period and the object of the 18th and 19th century imagination. We will consequently vacillate through three intersecting topics: 1) close attention to Renaissance lyric poetry, probably by Shakespeare, Donne, and Marvell; 2) Rancière’s readings of Kant, Hegel, and Schiller; and 3) nineteenth century conceptualizations of ties between the Renaissance and Aestheticism (Ruskin, Pater, and Henry James, as well as the critical reception of Shakespeare, Donne, and Marvell).

Course Reading List:
Rancière, Aisthesis
Selected Aesthetic Theory by Kant, Hegel, and Schiller
Shakespeare, Sonnets
Donne, Songs and Sonnets
Marvell, English Poems
Ruskin, The Stones of Venice
Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance
James, Italian Hours

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation 20%; shorter paper 15%; annotated bibliography 15%; longer paper 50%.

Term: F -Term (Fall Term: September - December 2015)
Date/Time:  Wednesday,  6:00pm - 9:00pm,  3 hours
  Room JHB 614 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2015-2016 Graduate Course Timetable. 

Historicizing Shakespeare’s Language: Discourse Analysis and Early Modern Studies

L Magnusson

Powerful claims have been made for how Shakespeare extended the resources and tapped the potential of the English language, from Francis Meres’ 1598 comments including him among poets by whom “the English tongue is mightily enriched, and gorgeously invested in rare ornaments” to Frank Kermode’s renewed assertion in 2001 that “the life of the plays is in the language.” Nonetheless, when new historicism was dominant, scant attention was paid to verbal artistry. Criticism has recently taken up the challenge to bridge the gap between cultural history and close analysis, and this seminar explores important questions about what a newly historicized engagement with the complex language of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry should look like. For instance, should it attend primarily to the sociohistorical contexts of verbal exchanges, finding ways to substantiate Bakhtin’s claim that the “internal politics of style” is partly determined by the “external politics” of social relationships, class structures, or gender ideologies? Should it place a strong focus on dialogic interaction, on how social relationships and subjectivities are built up through language? Should it engage with the history of the English language itself, focusing on linguistic changes like the huge influx of new words in Shakespeare’s time or contemporary interest in grammatical categories like the “potential mood”? Should it use old tools or new tools: Elizabethan rhetoric? modern-day discourse analysis? corpus-based linguistics? computer-assisted text analysis? We will speculate about Shakespeare's fascination with the rhetoric and power dynamics of ordinary conversation, with the language training of humanist grammar-schools, and with everyday miscomprehension as a motor for language innovation. While the methodologies under consideration will be oriented to Shakespeare’s texts, many of them will have a wider applicability to the language of other literary and social texts. The course brings to its reconsideration of Shakespeare’s language an interdisciplinary gathering of readings, including Bakhtin on dialogism, Bourdieu on economics of linguistic exchanges, Brown and Levinson on politeness, as well as readings in rhetoric, the history of early modern English, discourse pragmatics, and digital humanities.

Course Requirements
The course will be conducted primarily as a seminar. To explore the material as fully as possible and to practice professional skills, seminar member will exchange email responses to selected class readings with other members, engage in a “try-out seminar” to experiment with new or unfamiliar tools for close analysis, and present a short colloquium paper (written version 12-15 pages).

If reading ahead, choose among Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, Sonnets (Norton); M. M. Bakhtin, from The Dialogic Imagination (1981), pp. 250-300, 324-58. A collection of methodological readings will supplement the Shakespeare text.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements
In-class seminar 25%; course paper (colloquium and written version) 45%; frequent short “issue” sheets 20%; class participation 10%.

Term:  F-Term (Fall Term: September - December 2015)
Date/Time:  Tuesday,  3:00pm - 6:00pm,  3 hours
  Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2015-2016 Graduate Course Timetable. 
ENG2983HS (Cancelled)
Paradise Lost
M. Nyquist

 Return to Graduate Courses main page.

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus