- Course Number: ENGL 197
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- Advisory Enrollment Information:
This course cannot be repeated and is limited to upper-division English majors only.
- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 197
- Quarter: Winter 2019
ENGL197: Upper-Division Seminar: Renaissance Literature and Race
As the Oxford English Dictionary shows, the etymology of the word “race” during the Renaissance conveys a cluster of meanings: “group of people connected by common descent (1480), offspring, descendants (1496), subdivision of a species represented by a certain number of individuals with hereditary characteristics (1500), time span of a generation (1552), origin, extraction (1558), set or class of people sharing the same profession or the same character (1564), group of animals born to the same mother (1611), subdivision of mankind which is distinguished from others by the relative frequency of certain hereditary traits (1684).” In this class, we will read a wide range of critical, historical, and theoretical sources in order to assess how race-thinking during England’s proto-colonial era, when it was not yet a global empire but aspired to be one, manifests in literary works from Shakespeare and his contemporaries, including Renaissance women poets and playwrights. We will attend to the intersection of race with class, gender, religion, sexuality, and other social vectors as they are negotiated in these literary works. We will also gauge how a historical understanding of “race” can inform critical race studies and critiques of racism in our own era.