2021-2022 University Catalog 
    
    May 16, 2022  
2021-2022 University Catalog archived

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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.

Winter 2022, ENGL 392A-01: Topics in Literature in English before 1700: Villainy and Virtue on Stage (3). Prerequisite: Take one English course between 201 and 295, and one between 222 and 299. English theater of the Middle Ages and Renaissance revels in displays of rampant vice and spectacles of maligned virtue. When Shakespeare’s Falstaff delights audiences with his combination of outrageous lies and quick wit, his charm is buoyed by a tradition of unabashed villainy and skillful temptation that began with medieval representations of Lucifer. When Hermione stands trial for adultery in The Winter’s Tale, the authority of her defense (and the stone-heartedness of her accuser) recalls popular tales of female saints and mystics. Why were these character types so compelling for so long—and to audiences who vowed to shut down the public theater, what made them so potentially dangerous? This course, by focusing on the villains that audiences love to hate and the saintly figures who inspire both faith and doubt, exposes the rich transhistorical conversations that occur between plays and across genres; with works like Mankind and the Chester Antichrist set next to Dr. Faustus and The Devil is an Ass, the schedule connects Shakespeare and his contemporaries to their predecessors in order to uncover the active, unruly, and even profane world of early English drama. (HL) York.

 




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