English 514: Elizabethan Literature
Spring 2014 (TR, 2:00-3:15)
Course Description: English 514—offered for graduate and undergraduate credit and centered on three main figures: Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare—surveys poetry, prose narratives, drama, and critical theory of the Elizabethan period (1558–1603). The course divides into three units:
Requirements: The course requires a midterm examination to be written in class, four response papers, a longer researched essay, a final examination, and participation. The midterm and final examinations will be open-book and open-notes, and there will be fewer stages in the paper assignment than there are in my Shakespeare class. Undergraduates will write four response papers (each a minimum of 2 full pages) and a longer researched essay of at least 8 pages (it may be based on one or more of your response papers). I will not use a portfolio system, but I will be glad to read your drafts if they are submitted at least a week before the due dates. Graduate students will have the same requirements, but they will write a slightly longer research paper (at least 12 pages) that uses more sources.
Course Format: My hope and intention is that we will be able to operate “collegially,” which means with a high degree of student engagement. I will fill in gaps where gaps need to be filled, but otherwise I will expect you to discuss and discover on your own. I will provide questions and pose problems in advance (in fact, the daily handouts are already posted on the course website); the rest is largely up to you. The course will operate almost exclusively on the basis of small- and large-group discussion, and there will be a great emphasis on in-class reports and on out-of-class collaboration.
Critical Issues: This course may be for you if you find any of the following questions intriguing: What is the second most important book in Elizabethan England? Which play provided Shakespeare a model for Prospero in The Tempest? What happens to persons psychologically and spiritually on their deathbed? How can one have a “good” death? Who was the dark lady in Shakespeare’s sonnets? What is the “shape” of a poet’s career? What is historical allegory? What kind of voice did women writers have four centuries ago? I hope that you will consider joining me for an exploration of these and other questions.
With all best wishes,