English 45A

Literature in English: Through Milton

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2019 Landreth, David
Lectures MW 1-2 in 3 LeConte + one hour of discussion section per week in various locations (sec. 101: F 1-2; sec. 102: F 1-2; sec. 103: F 2-3; sec. 104: F 2-3; sec. 105: Thurs. 11-12; sec. 106: Thurs. 2-3) 3 LeConte

Book List

Cavendish, M: The Blazing World; Chaucer, G.: The Canterbury Tales; Milton, J: Paradise Lost; Spenser, E.: Edmund Spenser's Poetry; Stump and Felch, eds.: Elizabeth I and Her Age; Webster, J: The Duchess of Malfi


English 45A introduces students to the foundations of literary writing in Britain, from the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance and English Civil War. This semester I'd like to focus on how that foundational narrative—the story of how British authors claim authority— is shot through by questions of gender. Is literary activity implicity, or explicitly, masculine? Is authority itself, in a patriarchal society, necessarily masculine? Do women who write count as authors? How do male writers engage the possibility of female authority?

We'll range in chronological sequence across our period, but at the center of our semester's study will be the figure of Elizabeth Tudor, for fifty years the sovereign Queen of the English patriarchy, adored and abhorred by her male subjects in equal measure (and often in the same breath). Spenser professed the representative system of his Elizabethan epic, The Faerie Queene, to offer "mirrors more than one" to contemplate his sovereign, and we will read our syllabus as likewise refracting the image of female authority into different shapes and scales.

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