English 116

Backgrounds of English Literature in the Continental Renaissance

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2012 No instructor assigned yet.
TTh 12:30-2 130 Wheeler

Book List

Castiglione: The Book of the Courtier; Cervantes: Don Quixote; Erasmus: The Praise of Folly; Machiavelli: The Prince; Montaigne: The Essays of Montaigne; Rabelais: Gargantua and Pantagruel

Other Readings and Media

Also a course reader.


This course will survey some of the major prose writings of the continental Renaissance in their cultural and historical contexts. Various in genre, including political philosophy (Machiavelli), essays (Montaigne), and proto-novels (Rabelais and Cervantes), these works all blur the boundary between fact and fiction, and the literary and non-literary. Although these texts themselves present constantly shifting ground, some recurring topics will include the social function of rhetoric, antagonism between elite and popular culture, versions of the "modern" self, and pre-novelistic discourse. The writers covered in this course influence English literature in the early modern period and beyond. But this course is less concerned with establishing "backgrounds to English literature" than it is with reading, in English, some of the most brilliant minds of the Renaissance. (Please note that this course does NOT satisfy the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.)

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