Historicizing English Literature
Sixteenth Century British Literature

Dr. Anderson
4703/6703
T/R 9:30

In this course, we will trace the development of English literature throughout the sixteenth century, beginning with Skelton's doggerel poetics (1504) and culminating in 1599 with Henry V, Shakespeare's first play in the new Globe Theatre. The objective of the course is two-fold: first, we will examine the development of literary form during the century -- from, for example, the emergence of the sonnet to the invention of the Spenserian stanza; second, we will begin to understand how major historical developments such as the Reformation, the growth of court culture, and the emergence of London as an urban center began to affect literary sensibilities.

The broader methodological questions that I hope will shape the way we think about the literature that we read include what are some differences between traditional historicism and so-called "new historicism?" Does post-structuralism offer scholars a way to integrate a sense of history with literary interpretation? What is the relationship between historical texts and literary texts from the period, and do acts of reading these discourses differ, then or today?

Students will write a literary analysis (5-7 pp.) as well as a final essay (10-12 pp.) that explores the relationship between one aspect of sixteenth-century history and a literary text. Students will also write occasional short analysis papers and have a mid-term and a final exam.

Graduate students will write a 18-20 page paper for their final essay.

Elizabeth I

The Ditchy Portrait of Elizabeth I on a map of England (1592).