English 115B

Upper Division Coursework: The English Renaissance: Literature of the 17th Century

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2004 Booth, Stephen
Booth, Stephen
TTh 2-3:30 101 LSA (Life Sciences Addition)

Other Readings and Media

"Di Cesare, Mario, ed., George Herbert and the Seventeenth-Century Religious Poets; Donne, John, Complete English Poems; Maclean, Hugh, ed., Ben Jonson and the Cavalier Poets; Milton, John, Paradise Lost, ed. Scott Elledge

Recommended: Bacon, Francis, Essays; Hill, Christopher, A Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 "


"Although I am putting a history book on the recommended list, this will be a course on works written in the first three quarters of the seventeenth century, not a course on the century itself.

I think I can teach you more about the seventeenth-century works I don't discuss in class by looking in detail at a few works than I could by scurrying through a handful of anthologies or by generalizing at length about either the particular qualities of particular authors or schools or by focusing on the particular qualities that characterize the culture that seventeenth-century literature reflects. I'm not good at categorizing, and I deeply mistrust categorization as an intellectual tool.

I will spend most of my time--probably all of it, in fact--on verse. That's mainly because verse was what the seventeenth century did best, but also because I don't have much that is worth listening to to say about much seventeenth-century prose. I may talk about one or two of Francis Bacon's essays, but the reading will otherwise be of verse by Donne, Jonson, Herrick, George Herbert, Waller, Milton, Suckling, Lovelace, and Marvell. I want particularly to talk about things that most English majors have dealt with before--notably the most often assigned poems of Donne and Herbert and, most notably, Paradise Lost. (I realize that Paradise Lost might put some people off taking the course. Such people have probably tried, or been asked to try, to read Paradise Lost as if it got the stock Sunday-school responses it sounds as if it's trying to get. Given a chance to read the poem as something other than a failed effort to versify its editors' footnotes, such people are likely to see how beautiful Paradise Lost is and to wish it longer.)

Three papers, each of a length determined by how much you have to say and how efficient you are in saying it. The third paper will take the place of a final examination and will be due in my box in 322 Wheeler Hall any time between the last class meeting and 3:30 p.m. on whatever day is assigned this course for a final exam. "

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