In this course, we will become familiar with the poetry, prose, and drama of the English medieval and early modern periods, which occurred roughly between the years 500-1650CE. We will break this large period down into its four constituent phases of English literary history, which include Anglo Saxon, Anglo-Norman or high medieval, late medieval, and early modern literature, sampling some of the most well known works, authors, and genres from each.
Throughout the quarter, we will consider how these texts engage with their contemporary moments, paying particular attention to issues of sovereignty, the body politic, the individual, group experience, and nation building. We will even consider how these texts might help us better understand our own contemporary moment, as well.
Texts include Beowulf, the Lais of Marie de France, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, Second Shepherd’s Play, Thomas More’s Utopia, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a selection of seventeenth-century poetry, and early modern ballads.