East Building 121
Section Information for Spring 2013
At the beginning of the 17th century, Queen Elizabeth is still on the throne and Shakespeare still has his greatest plays ahead of him; by the time the century closes, a monarch (Charles I) has been executed, England has experienced a civil war based in part on religious controversy, the slave trade has begun to grow, and scientific culture has begun to emerge. Meanwhile, wonderful poetry and prose are being written throughout the century, ranging from verses in praise of God to those of a far more profane and erotic nature, and from treatises about imaginary worlds to the beginnings of the English novel.
As you might guess, the period ca. 1600-1700 was a period of great upheaval. But it was also a period of great writing, as we'll see in this course. Not only will we read the poems of some of England's most renowned male poets--John Donne, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, and George Herbert among them. We'll read less well-known (but still wonderful) poetry by women (e.g. Lucy Hutchinson) and consider the way poems shape the period's ideas about desire, devotion, and politics. And when it comes to prose, we'll not only read Francis Bacon's utopia The New Atlantis, but Aphra Benn's sentimental novel Orinoko, the tragic tale of an African prince taken into slavery.