English 449: The English Renaissance

Dr. Michael Bryson
Sierra Tower 832



COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will explore the English Renaissance--a late party crasher to the European Renaissance--through literature that considers politics and social organization, theology, love, the desire for power/free will, and the status of women. England begins to become recognizably modern during this period, and for better or worse, the English-speaking world has been shaped by the developments of this island-nation separated from us by time (and by a common language).


Midterm and Final Essays: in the range of about 1500-2000 words (for the entire essay, not each question), these will be responses to essay questions. These essays will not require secondary sources, but will require you to read the texts closely, and cite evidence from the texts (using MLA citation) to back up your arguments. The midterm essay will be due in class on 3/15 (all stapled together into one tidy package). The final essay will be due by 11:59:59 PM on 5/19 by email as one attached docx, doc., rtf., odt, or pdf file (no multiple attachments, Apple-specific file formats, or physical submissions of finals). In your email subject line, put English 449 final, and make sure your name is on your paper and in the body of your email, especially if using a non-CSUN address.

READING LIST: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century/Early Seventeenth Century, also various online texts indicated week-by-week in the syllabus

Statement on Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is a serious offense that will be treated seriously. Please read the CSUN policy here.

Statement on Being Dull: Dullness is an even more serious offense that will be treated even more seriously. (Un)fortunately, CSUN has no policy, so I am left to my own devices when dealing with dullards and dullardry. "[F]or always the dullness of the fool is the whetstone of the wits" (As You Like It 1.2.52-53).

Weekly Preview

Week 1 (1/25): Introductions

Week 2 (2/1): Social and Political Organization: Thomas More--Utopia (Norton, 572-646)

Week 3 (2/8): The Theological Tradition: Calvin (Norton, 681-84), Erasmus--On Free Will (20-31, original pagination), Luther--Bondage of the Will (32-39, original pagination), Book of Homilies (Norton, 692-95), Thomas More (Norton, 679-81)

Week 4 (2/15): Love and the Poetic Tradition, part 1: Plato--Symposium (572-82, original pagination), Troubadour/Trobairitz/Minnesinger poetry, pre-Petrarchan Italian poetry, Castiglione (Norton, 706-18),  Thomas Wyatt (Norton, 648-54), Henry Howard (Norton, 662-64, 669-70)

Week 5 (2/22): Love and the Poetic Tradition, part 2: George Gascoigne--The Lullaby of a Lover (Norton, 1008-09), Edward De Vere--The Lively Lark (Norton, 1009-10), Samuel Daniel--Delia (Norton, 1014-15), Michael Drayton--Idea (Norton, 1015-17), Thomas Campion--My Sweetest Lesbia (Norton, 1017), Catullus--Vivamus Mea Lesbia, Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella (Norton, 1084-1101, poems 1, 7, 9, 10, 15, 21, 39, 52, 56, 71, 72, 106, 108)

Week 6 (3/1): Love and the Poetic Tradition, part 3: Christopher Marlowe--Hero and Leander (Norton, 1107-1126), The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (Norton, 1126), Walter Raleigh--The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd (Norton, 1024-25)

Midterm Essay (distributed in class 3/1, due in class 3/15)--staple everything together into one paper--do not hand in multiple, separate papers.

Week 7 (3/8): Love and the Poetic Tradition, part 4: William Shakespeare--Sonnets (Norton, 1171-86, poems 1, 3, 15, 18, 19, 55, 71, 94, 105, 116, 130, 138)

Week 8 (3/15): William Shakespeare--Twelfth Night (Norton, 1187-1250)

3/22 Off for Spring Break

Week 9 (3/29): Politics: Machiavelli--The Prince (53-62, original pagination), Mary Queen of Scots--Letter to Elizabeth I (Norton, 740-42),  Narrative of the Execution of the Queen of Scots (Norton, 742-49), Elizabeth I--A Letter to Mary, Queen of Scots (Norton, 757), A Letter to King James VI of Scotland (Norton, 760-61), Speech to the Troops at Tillbury (Norton, 762-63) 

Week 10 (4/5):  Critique and Defense of Poetry: Stephen Gosson--The School of Abuse (9-44, original pagination), Philip Sidney--The Defense of Poesy (Norton, 1044-83)

Week 11 (4/12): Poetry as Moral Allegory: Edmund Spenser--The Faerie Queene (Book 1, Cantos 1-5, Norton 781-843)

Week 13 (4/19):
Witchcraft, the Devil, and the Question of Human Will: King James VI/I--Daemonologie (4-23, original pagination), News from Scotland (64-81, original pagination), Reginald Scott--The Discoverie of Witchcraft  (1-35, 58-62, original pagination), Christopher Marlowe--Dr. Faustus (Norton, 1127-63)

Week 14 (4/26): The Status of Women: Joseph Swetnam--The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women (Norton, 1650-52), William Gouge--Of Domestical Duties (Norton, 1655-60), Rachel Speght--A Muzzle for Melastomus (Norton, 1652-55), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa--Female Pre-eminence, or, The dignity and excellency of that sex above the male (entire text)

Week 15 (5/3): The Lover(s) of Women: John Donne--The Flea, The Good-Morrow, Song, The Ectasy, Elegy 19: To His Mistress Going to Bed, Sappho To Philaenis (Norton, 1373-74, 1376-78, 1386-87, 1393-94 , 1397-99)

Week 16 (5/10): Off. Work on your final essay

Final Essay (distributed in class 5/3, due by 11:59:59 PM on 5/17 via email)--combine everything in one file/attachment--do not send multiple, separate attachments.

The Humanist (Re)Turn 
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