From Reformation to Revolution: Early Modern English Literature and Culture
Studienorientierung mit der ZSB • Anglistik
Termin & Ort
This lecture traces the course of English literature from the early sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, by all accounts one of the most momentous, tumultuous and fascinating periods in the history of the country, under the reign of two dynasties, the Tudors and the Stuarts. During this time, England underwent five changes of religion within one generation and, not long after, saw a veritable revolution with the public execution of the king and a bloody civil war, while at the same time laying the foundations of the global empire, whose aftermath is with us till today. Yet against the background of this violent history – and partly perhaps as a product of it – the country also saw a great upsurge in literary production, with the introduction and reinvention of classical and/or Italian poetic forms into the language, with the establishment of public playhouses, with changing attitudes to passion, sex and gender encoded in courtly as well as popular writing, and with the growing awareness that Literature, generally speaking, can become a force to reckon with in, above all, in political projects such as nation building. Indeed, the crucial claims of English and of Englishness, which return not least in present-day post-Brexit rhetoric, were first made at this time as part of early modern cultural self-fashioning.
In the lecture, we shall look at crucial texts or excerpts – in poetry, prose and drama – by some leading writers like Thomas More, Nicholas Udall, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne or Andrew Marvell, to study such transactions between literature and power and to understand why the engagement with this period is essential for anyone in English studies. Most texts to be discussed are available in The Norton Anthology of English Literature (10th edition, 2018), vol. B, additional material via LSF. No prior knowledge or preparatory work is necessary, all Visiting and Erasmus students are most welcome.
The class will take place in an online format.
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