ENGL 392 - Topics in Literature in English before 1700
Credits: 3 in fall or winter, 4 in spring
Prerequisite: Take one English course between 201 and 295, and one between 222 and 299. Enrollment limited. A seminar course on literature written in English before 1700 with special emphasis on research and discussion. Student suggestions for topics are welcome. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Fall 2020, ENGL 392A-01: Topics in Literature in English before 1700: Romance and Epic (3). Prerequisites: One English course between 201 and 295, and one between 222 and 299. Centering on Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, among the greatest English-language epics but one indebted to the Italian Renaissance romance epics of Ariosto and Tasso, we take up literary theories and representative instances of romance, epic, heroic poetry, and the novel associated with the questions surrounding Spenser and his career. We begin with Beowulf (in Seamus Heaney’s modern translation) to explore the differences between heroic poetry and classical epic before turning to Spenser and the rich perspective his multifaceted work lends to debates about open-ended romance narrative and more tightly-structured classicizing epic. From there, we look forward to the many English poets influenced by Spenser and to examples of the rising novel indebted to Spenser’s wonderfully imaginative work—from Mary Wroth’s The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania to Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and, finally, the contemporary novelist Philip Pullman. (HL) Adams.
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