Topics in Pre-1800 British Literature: Renaissance Romance
Monday 11 am - 1 pm
Wednesday 11 am - 12 pm
Brief Description of Course
The narrative form known as romance was both old and new for Renaissance readers. Stories of knight errantry, supernatural marvels, and sexual temptations were familiar from the chivalric tradition. But a rising generation of writers, including Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and Mary Wroth, transformed this popular genre into the period’s most sophisticated and outrageous mode of literary art. We will connect their experiments in narrative to the age’s debates over mobility and migration, promiscuity and chastity, gender fluidity and gender performance, marriage and friendship. Along the way, we will encounter a diverse cast of superhuman, human, and other-than-human characters as we explore the shifting landscapes of romance fiction in relation to the religious and racialized geographies of the Mediterranean basin, the African continent, the British islands, and the Atlantic world.
Tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron, Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe, selections from Sidney’s Arcadia, Wroth’s Urania, and Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Pericles and Winter’s Tale.
First Three Authors/Texts
Selections from Sir Gawain and The Green Knight and Othello (Quercus), tales from The Decameron (Quercus), Daphnis and Chloe.
Method of Evaluation
- Informal discussion posts (15%)
- Participation (15%)
- Short essay (30%)
- Final essay (40%)