English 250

Research Seminar: Renaissance Economies

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2006 Landreth, David
Landreth, David
Tues. 3:30-6:30 108 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

"Dekker, T.: The Shoemaker?s Holiday; Donne, J.: Major Works; Jonson, B.: The Devil Is an Ass; Kinney, A., ed.: Rogues, Vagabonds, and Sturdy Beggars; Marlowe, C.: The Jew of Malta; Marx, K.: Capital, vol. 1; Nashe, T.: The Unfortunate Traveler and Other Works; McCluskie, K., ed.: Plays on Women; Shakespeare, W.: King Lear, Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew; Spenser, E.: The Faerie Queene; and a Course Reader

Recommended Texts: Cox, J., and Kastan, D., eds.: A New History of Early English Drama; de Grazia, M., et. al., eds.: Subject and Object in Renaissance Culture "


"This research seminar considers a range of possible forms that an economic criticism of sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century texts might take. The totality of scarcity-engendered choice that we know as ?the economy? was not a concept available to the Renaissance; their word ?oeconomy? refers not to any such universalized institution, but to the practice (Aristotle?s oikonomia) of managing an individual household. Our discussion of these topics will locate itself, therefore, in the sphere of the domestic, before passing to the broader registers of the London luxury market, the print market, the ideal of communal prosperity present in the formulation of nation as ?commonwealth,? and the fantasized venues of exchange in such un-local readings as The Faerie Queene and The Jew of Malta. We will consider in each of these registers the relationships of individuals to the things they own and to the things they want.

We will read a different early modern text each week in conjunction with recent historical or critical writing. Following current critical preoccupations, most of the literary readings will come from the drama, but as I am interested in expanding those preoccupations to the full breadth of Renaissance genres (and in helping out those of you drawing up your exam lists), we will read more widely into the canon as well. A problematic that greatly concerns me is the Marxian one of reading across the historical rupture of ?primitive accumulation? from our own inescapable locus in modernity; we will be using economic difference as a privileged instance of historical difference, and will discuss the different ways in which thinkers modern and early modern have sought to imagine such a difference. "

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