English R1A

Reading and Composition: Reformations, Luther to Marx

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2019 Walton, Alex
MWF 9-10 122 Wheeler

Book List

Milton, John: Paradise Lost; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet

Other Readings and Media

Other required texts: Course reader, available for purchase.


This course will provide an introduction to the literary and artistic culture of the Protestant Reformation, focusing on the century and a half between Luther's 95 Theses and the Restoration of the monarchy in England (1660). Readings will include polemic social and religious texts (Martin Luther, John Calvin, Rachel Speght, "Martin Marprelate") as well as literary works (Hamlet, selections from Paradise Lost, poems by Aemelia Lanyer, Lucy Hutchinson, Madame Guyon); we will also look at a few paintings and (defaced) statues, and read a bit of philosophy (Hume). After surveying the literary and artistic modes of the Reformation proper (1530-1660), we'll spend the last few weeks considering the way the social, cultural, and religious upheavals of this period provide a model for later revolutions, in and outside of art—especially those of early critical social theory in Ludwig Feuerbach and Karl Marx, as well as in Romantic painting. Thee explorations will be underwritten by the question: How did the experience of the Protestant Reformation shape the cultural landscape of the West as we still experience it? How did changes in the sphere of religion ripple outward into the literary and artistic forms of the period, and richochet forward into our present? In pursuing these questions, students will gain practice reading and analyzing texts, fomulating questions and arguments on the basis of textual detail, and producing clear, argumentative writing.

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