English 166

Special Topics: Elizabethan Renaissance: Art, Culture, and Visuality

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2016 Honig, Elizabeth
MW 4-5:30 + discussion sections 106 Moffitt

Book List

Johnson, Ben: Bartholomew Fair; More, Sir Thomas: Utopia; Orgel, Stephen: The Illusion of Power;

Recommended: Alexander, Gavin, ed.: Sidney's 'The Defence of Poesy' and Selected Renaissance Literary Criticism


This course has two goals: to explore visual culture and the role of visuality in renaissance England, and to develop research skills.

Elizabeth I's long reign saw a remarkable flowering of the arts. Her unique position as a female monarch surrounded by male courtiers produced a dynamic in which all artistic production seemed to reflect back upon her, the powerful focus of men's desires and aspirations. From the building of stately houses to the writing of poetry, a rhetoric of courtship and persuasion would underlie England's renaissance. Following on a long period of state-sponsored iconoclasm, the status of the visual arts and their relationship to verbal expression also had to be redefined. This course will consider the Elizabethan period in relation to culture under Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, her brother and sister, and her Stuart heir James I. We will treat poetry, painting, and pageantry; rhetoric, architecture and urban development. We will also pay close attention to the applied and domestic arts--furnishings, clothing, embroidery. Writers, designers, and artists we will discuss will include Holbein, More, Hilliard, Sidney, Smythson, Jones, Jonson, Van Dyck and Rubens.

This course involves interdisciplinary, research-based learning. The evaluation of your work will be based not on examinations but on a multi-part project, on which you will have extensive, structured guidance from the professor, the GSI, and the library staff. You will write an original interdisciplinary research paper using primary sources available online.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

This class is cross-listed with History of Art 169A.

Discussion Sections

201 No instructor assigned yet.
Tues. 9-10 151 Barrows
202 No instructor assigned yet.
Tues. 10-11 5 Evans

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