Topics in Literature : Cities and Literature: London and Boston in the 17th and 18th centuries

Course Number: ENGL 165EM
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 165AA-ZZ
Quarter: Spring 2013
Instructor: Warner, William
Day(s): TR
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM
Location: SH 1415

This course will investigate the relationship between, on the one hand, historically distinct forms of literature, and, on the other, the production of space into the lived places between the 16th and 18th century. Among our chief lines of investigation will be: How do distinct spaces and performances of literature (whether aural and silent) mediate each other? Can we understand literature, whether written or spoken, as vibrant matter that thrives within the ecological niche provided by the early modern city and town? Just how are the distinct genres and forms of literature (drama, poetry, non-fiction narrative, novel) shaped to urban spaces so they can proliferate as private and public entertainment? What sort of audience practices and experiences do they afford? Our course readings will range from two popular non-Shakespearean city comedies (Ben Jonson’s Epicene {1600} and Thomas Dekker’s The Shoe-maker’s Holiday {1609}); Defoe’s account of London’s response a health catastrophe in Journal of the Plague Year {1722}; the literary work needed to envision and execute the plantation of New England by the first Puritans (John Winthrop, Increase Mather, Ann Bradstreet, Ann Hutchinson), as well as Hawthorne’s classic account of the costs and contradictions of that project in the The Scarlett Letter {1850}. We will draw freely on maps and poetry to deepen our understanding of urban place and literary tropes. Course assignments include one short 2-page essay (a close reading of a literary text), a “media remix performance” at the end of the term, and a final paper related to that performance.

Note: This course will be co-taught with Renaissance scholar and EMC Fellow, Christopher Foley. I am teaching a similar course this quarter, with some overlapping readings, English 197. Please do not register for both courses!