Shakespeare's notoriety as the world's greatest writer has eclipsed the reputations of his contemporaries. Some of them--had they lived in any other era--would be regarded as major figures. Part of the answer to why Shakespeare's plays and poems have captured the imagination of every generation in virtually every part of the world is that he worked in a literary and dramatic environment richer than in any other period in English history. We'll examine the works of some the great writers of this period--More, Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Jonson, and, yes, some Shakespeare too.
TEXT: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume B, The Sixteenth Century, 10th Edition
Requirements: in class essays, two quizzes.
Note: This class is taught entirely on line
Summer, A Term 2020 English 322a: Shakespeare W.R. Streitberger
The Golden Age of Elizabeth I streitwr@
Our ordinary procedure: we will meet every M, Tu, W, Th from 9:40 to 11:50 in ZOOM. Log in through CANVAS.UW.EDU. We will also use email to communicate and to submit work. You must check your email every 24 hours during the quarter. All written assignments and quizzs will be submitted to me by email as WORD attachments (no other kind of attachments please).
Our “fail safe” procedure: Online courses require internet access. What if my/your internet goes down? Our plan is as follows: I have sent you the syllabus for the entire quarter listing the requirements, the schedule, and study questions for each hour of class time. You are to follow this schedule. Do the reading and answer the questions for each class period. Choose one question for each hour, write a 20 minute essay on it, submit them to me when we meet again.
Text: The Norton Anthology, English Literature, The Sixteenth Century, 10th ed.
This is a 300 level, junior-senior level majors course in Elizabethan literature. All of the works we read were written early modern English. The spelling has been modernized in our text. Nevertheless, early modern syntax and word choice will occasionally make reading more challenging than you might expect. You need to plan for this in terms of setting aside enough time to comprehend the reading assignments. One of the waya in which I’ve tried to help with this is to set three pointed questions for you to answer for each hour of class time. We will discuss these questions in our class sessions. And in those sessions you must have your text open in front of you so that you can follow along in our reading and discussions. If you do not do this you will not do well on the exams or on the essay.
In class oral reports (This is listed in the UW Catalog as a lecture-discussion course. I will lecture from time to time, but we will discuss the material we read in every class period. I have assigned three leading study questions for each 50 minute period of class. Your job is to give some purposeful though to these questions. Come to class prepared to discuss them and others you might have. I will call on you to respond to the questions during our class meetings.
Writing Assignments: Choose one of the Discussion Questions for each week of class. Write a timed twenty-minute essay on that subject. Submit it t me by email on Friday of that week. There are a total f four of these. See schedule for details..
Exams : There will also be two exams on 6 July and 22 July. The exams will consist of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and definition questions along with passage identification and short paragraphs. They will require careful preparation.
Grading: In class oral reports + writing assignments = 50%. Exams = 50%
Week 1. Utopia. Over the course of this week read in Norton, 3-13
Mon 22 June Introduction Tues 23 June More, Utopia, 44-117. Wed 24 June More, Utopia Thurs 25 June Castiglione, The Courtier, 176-192. Find on line and read Montaigne, On the Inconstancy of our Actions. Due by Friday: twenty minute essay.
Week 2. Lyric Poetry. Over the course of this week read in Norton, 13-26. See the discussion questions for details about readings for each of the sessions this week.
Mon 29 June Shakespeare, sonnets 1, 18, 73. Wyatt, Surrey, 119-142 Tues 30 June Sir Philip Sidney, 586-603, Mary Sidney, 604-608, Amelia Lanyer, 980-990, Mary Wroth, 1110-1120 Wed 1 July Shakespeare, Sonnets, 722-738 Thurs 2 July 1. Shakespeare, Sonnets. 2. Sidney, Defense of Poesy, 546-585. Due by Friday: twenty minute essay
Week 3. Epic Poetry. Before Tuesday’s class find any Bible on line. Read Revelation, chapters 13, 17, 19-22.
Mon 6 July Exam 1 Tues 7 July Spenser, Faerie Queene. First Hour: pp. 249-276. The letter to Raleigh. Induction. Book 1 canto 1, stanzas 1-55 (Error and Archimago). Second Hour: pp. 289-298 and 347-352. Book 1, canto 4, stanzas 1-36 (The House of Pride), canto 8, stanzas 31-50 (Orgolio’s dungeon).
Wed 8 July Spenser, Faerie Queene. First Hour: pp. 352-365. Book I, canto 9, stanzas 1-20 (Arthur’s story). canto 9, stanzas 21-54 (The Cave of Despair). Second Hour: pp. 365-382. Book I, canto 10, stanzas 1-68 (The House of Holiness).
Thurs 9 July Spenser, Faerie Queene. First Hour: pp. 382-406 Book I, canto 11, stanzas 1-55 (The Great Battle). canto 12, stanzas 1-42 (Conclusion). Second Hour: pp. 406-417. Book II, canto 12, stanzas 42-87 (The Bower of Bliss). Due by Friday; twenty minute essay.
Week 4. Dramatic Poetry. This week read in Norton, 27-35
Mon 13 July Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, 679-717. Tues 14 July Marlowe, Dr. Faustus. Shakespeare, Othello, 803-889 Wed 15 July Shakespeare, Othello Thurs16 July Jonson, Volpone, 991-1088. Due by Friday: twenty minute essay
Mon 20 July Jonson, Volpone. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 739-802 Tues 21 July Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Wed 22 July Exam 2
Tuesday 23 June. Utopia
1.What are Hythloday's reasons for not taking a position as advisor to a prince? How do most princes behave? What kind of advice do they get from their counselors? What is Hytholday’s idea of an ideal prince ? Why does he think it is important that princes become philosophers?
- What economic "evil" is spreading and how is it related to the crime wave sweeping England? What ideas does Hythloday offer to solve these social problems? What is the source of the model he uses for his solution? How are his ideas connected to Christian morality?
3.What idea does Cardinal Morton contribute to Raphael’s suggestion about criminal punishment? How good is his idea? How do the Cardinal’s counselors respond to it?
1.Economy. What does Hythloday think is the problem with using money as a means of exchange? How is the Utopian economy organized? What human trait is it designed to keep in check?
- Social Organization. Describe the cities, the houses, the family unites in Utopia. How are the people supervised? How much personal freedom do they have?
- Work. How do the Utopian reduce the amount of work each person is required to do? How do they nevertheless insure an adequate supply of food and materials? How important is free time? How does slavery figure into their notion of work (in addition to criminal justice)?
Wednesday 24 June
1.Politics. How is the Utopian political system organized? Who decides what? How are their political practices designed to keep human pride in check? What is the role of lawyers in Utopia? How are legal disputes handled?
- Philosophy. What is the goal of life in Utopia? How is pleasure defined? How many different kinds are there? Which ones are most important? Why?
3.Religion. What kinds of religion do the Utopians practice? How do they react to Christianity?
1.Warfare. How do they regard treaties? What motives lead Utopians to consider war? What methods do they use to demoralize and defeat their enemies before a war starts? What is the role of women and families in warfare? What group of mercenaries do they employ (What group of Europeans is More alluding to)? When the Utopians win a war who do they execute and who do they reward?
2.How do Utopians treat certain classes of people—criminals, the terminally ill, extremists (like
Atheists, ascetics, zealous evangelicals)?
- What are Hytholday’s view on private property in Books I and II? What are More’s (the character) views? What human trait makes it difficult to institute the views and practices of the Utopians?
Finally: What can you deduce from the discussion of Pride at the end of Book II about More’s view of human nature? How is the structure of Utopian society designed to accord with this view?
Thursday 25 June.
1st hour. Castiglione, The Courtier.
- In Castiglione's conception of human faculties, knowledge is acquired by the soul. Explain how this works. How does reason function in his conception?
- Beauty is no more evident anywhere than in human beings, as Bembo indicates in his discussion introduced by the Renaissance idea of man as a microcosm of the universe ("a little world"). What is the source of Beauty? What image does Bembo use to describe it? and what is the relation between Goodness and Beauty?
- How does Peter Bembo define love? Explain the steps (cf. the stair image) by which the reason guides love. How does kissing enhance "true" love.
2nd hour. Montaigne, Of the Inconstancy of Our Actions
- How does Montaigne characterize human actions? What does he find most puzzling
- What does Montaigne think is the ordinary inclination of the human appetite?
- When he looks inside of himself into his “interiority”) what does Montaigne find? How
does his description accord with 20th and 21st century notions of the “self”?
Monday 29 June. Petrarch, Wyatt, and Surrey
- Read Shakespeare, sonnet 1. Who is the “we” of the first line in this sonnet?
- We will read and discuss Francis Petrarch’s Sonnet 3—the first meeting with Laura. Sonnet 90—Laura as a middle-aged woman. Sonnet 1-the renunciation of earthly love.
- Read Shakespeare sonnet 18 and 73.
- Examine the experiments with translations and adaptions of Petrarch’s Sonnets: Wyatt’s
‘Whoso List to Hunt,’ ‘Farewell Love,’ ‘I Find No Peace’, ‘My Galley,’ Surrey’s ‘The Soote Season’ and “Alas, so all thinges now do hold their peace’. Then specifically compare Wyatt’s ‘The Long Love’ to Surrey’s ‘Love That Doth Reign.’ They are both adaptations of Petrarch, Rhymes, 140. How would you define the differences in style and sensibility between these poets?
- Compare and contrast Wyatt’s ‘They Flee from Me’ to the later published version, ‘The Lover
Showeth How he is Forsaken.’ Which do you prefer and why?
- Read Wyatt’s ‘Mine Own John Poins’, a satirical verse epistle, and Surrey’s excerpt from ‘The
Fourth Book of Virgil’ in which he pioneers blank verse. Which of these poets do you prefer and why?
Tuesday 30 June.
1st hour. Sir Philip Sidney,
- How does Sidney rebel against Petrarchan conventions in sonnets 1, 2, and 15? What
about the imagery Sidney uses in sonnets 7 and 47? How disappointing is sonnet 108
- What is your opinion of Sidney’s attempt to personalize his relationship with Stella in
sonnets 49, 53,and 74.
- Look at Sidney’s adaption of neo-Platonic ideas (you are familiar with them from
Reading Castiglione’s The Courtier) in sonnets 10, 21, 52, 71, 72. What model would you use to characterize the interiority of the speaker of these poems?
2nd hour. Mary Sidney, Amelia Lanyer, Mary Wroth
- How well does Mary Wroth adapt Petrarchan sonnet conventions in Pamphilia to
Amphilanthus in which the speaker is a women?
- What observations in Amelia Lanyer’s ‘Eve’s Apology’ do you find most compelling?
- Call up on line a modern version of the Bible (like the NIV). Compare Mary Sidney’s
versifications of psalms 52, 119, and 139. In your opinion where does Mary Sidney do better than the modern translations?
Wednesday 1 July. Shakespeare
Shakespeare's sonnets are not arranged into a coherent series. The sonnets treat a variety of subjects:
procreation; friendship; the ravages of time and change; the difficulty of writing; the power of poetry to
immortalize its subject; the rival poet; and an obsessive relationship with the so-called ‘dark lady.’ There
are only two clear groups: 1-17 and 127-152.
1.In sonnets 1, 3, 12, 15 the poet encourages a young man to have a child. Why is it so important to have a child? How many reasons does he give for this?
- All of the sonnets, 1-126, are written to or about one or more young men. Try to explain the range of emotions the poet expresses about his friend in sonnets 20, 29, 30, 97, 116. How complex does the poet imagine the emotional relationship between men? How different from your own notions of friendship?
- How does the poet in sonnets 12, 18, 19, 55, 73, 116 deal with the effects of time on
relationships? How does Time’s destructive power affect emotions in relationships?
1.Many of the ‘dark lady’ poems focus on contradiction. 127 and 130 take one view of the lady’s complexion and their relationship and 147 takes another. 129 focuses on one view of their sexual relationship and 135 another. How does the poet explain his relationship to the lady in sonnet in 138 and to the lady and his friend in 144? What view of his relationship to the lady are you left with?
- How might you use what you learned about Montaigne’s “Inconstancy of our Actions” to help explain Shakespeare’s idea of the poet’s interiority in these sonnets?
- Compare and contrast the dark lady sonnets to Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella and to Petrarch’s Rhymes. In what ways are the lovers and the ladies similar? In what ways different? What do you think that Shakespeare expects his “qualified readers (i.e. the “we” of line 1, sonnet1)” to get out of them? How might they contribute to his literary reputation as an avant-garde poet?
Thursday 2 July
1st hour. . Sidney, The Defense of Poesy
Sidney 1. What is the definition of poetry? What does poetry imitate? How is it different from history and philosophy?
- How does Sidney defend against attacks on poetry—that there are better things to do with your time, that it is the ‘mother of lies,’ that it is the ‘nurse of abuse,’ and that Plato banished poets from his Republic? How does he argue for the social usefulness of poetry?
- What are Sidney's views on English poetry and poets? What does he think of English drama?
Review of weeks 1 and 2
Monday 6 July
Tuesday 7 July. Spenser, The Faerie Queene
- According to Spenser's letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, what is the point of The Faerie Queene? What does Spenser mean by allegory? Who are the two chief characters and who/what do they represent? How is the plot arranged?
- In FQ I, Red Cross is on a quest for holiness. If this is Red Cross's first mission, why is his armor in this condition (I.i.1)? What implications for interpreting the allegory? Who is Una? Who is the dragon? How might the significance of the battle with Error (I.i.13-27) be interpreted?
- Draw some parallels between Revelation, chapters 13, 17, 19-22 to FQ I.
- After the defeat of Error, Red Cross accepts Archimago's invitation to spend the night at his hermitage. Spenser goes back to Virgil for inspiration in writing about the underworld. What dream is manufactured by Morpheus (I.i.34-55)? How do you interpret it?
- After his separation from Una, Red Cross meets Duessa (Falsehood) and accompanies her to Lucifera's House of Pride (I.iv.4-5, 12).How is this house described?
- What effect does contact with the 7 deadly sins have on Red Cross’s moral character? (I.iv.16-36).
Wednesday 8 July. Spenser, The Faerie Queene
- Una bring Arthur to rescue Red Cross. Arthur defeats Orgolio (I.8.1-28). Then he descends into the dungeon to find Red Cross (I.8.29ff). What kind of a dungeon is it? What’s happened to Red Cross?
- What is Prince Arthur’s story (I.ix.1-19)? Why is he in fairy land? How connected to Bembo’s discussion of love in The Courtier? What gifts does he give to Red Cross? What is their significance?
- What are the stories of Sir Terwin and Sir Trevisan? How does Red Cross react to the advice to avoid Despair?
- Red Cross encounters Despair in his Cave (I.ix.20-54). How good are Despair's arguments for suicide (esp. I.ix.46)?
- How does Una save Red Cross from Despair? Explain the allegory?
- Compare and contrast the House of Holiness with the House of Pride.
Thursday 9 July. Spenser, The Faerie Queene
- Interpret Red Cross’s vision (I.x.55-62). See Revelation, 20-22
- In the three day battle with the great dragon in canto 11, Red Cross is almost vanquished several times. What revives him?
- In I.xii.26-42 Red Cross is betrothed to Una, but cannot marry her. Why not?
2nd hour. In FQ II, Sir Guyon is on a quest for the virtue of temperance. With the Palmer's help he arrives at the Bower of Bliss in canto II.xii.42.
1.How is this Bower described? Where is it located?
- What kind of a character is Acrasia? What doe she do to her victims?
3.Why does Guyon feel it necessary to destroy the Bower? Are there no other options?
Monday 13 July. Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
Jonathan Dollimore comments on the play: ‘One problem in particular has exercised critics of Dr. Faustus: its structure, inherited from the morality form, apparently negates what the play experientially affirms--the heroic aspiration of `Renaissance Man'.... Criticial opinion has tended to see the tension resolved in one way or another--that is, to read the play as ultimately vindicating either Faustus or the morality structure, But such resolution is what Dr. Faustus as an interrogative text resists. It seems always to represent paradox--religious and tragic--as insecurely and provocatively ambiguous or, worse, as openly contradictory.... Dr. Faustus is ... not an affirmation of Divine Law, or conversely of Renaissance Man, but an exploration of subversion through transgression.’
- What does the Chorus tell us about Faustus's background: his family, his success in school? To what does the metaphor in lines 20-23 refer?
- Why does Faustus reject Logic, Medicine, and Law as careers? The most important rejection is of Divinity as a career. Pay careful attention to his reasons for rejecting it. How related to what you know about Calvin’s idea of salvation?
- What is Faustus's idea of hell (3.58-60, 5.130-140)? Where might he have gotten such an idea? How much power does Faustus actually have? How much knowledge does he get from Mephostiphilis?
- What is Marlowe parodying in the contract with Lucifer (5.74-80)?
- What is the debate between the good and bad angels about? Hasn’t’ Faustus already damned
- How noble are Faustus's accomplishments? See especially his rescue of Bruno from the Papal court (7); his show of Alexander's paramour to the Emperor (8); his antics with the horse-courser (10); his production of grapes for the Duchess of Vanholt (11)?
Tuesday 14 July. Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
1.How does the juxtaposition of Helen of Troy and the Old Man (12) pick up on the debate
between Good and Bad Angel? Why Helen of Troy?
2.Read the last scene carefully. Why the mix of biblical and classical allusions?
3.Define tragedy. In what way is Faustus tragic?
2nd hour. Shakespeare, Othello
- By the end of Act 1 we hear of the relationship between Desdemona and Othello from three different perspectives. We first hear of it in the low comments made by Iago and Roderigo in their attempt to incite Brabantio's anger (1.1.88-94, 111-116, 118-120, 123-143). We then hear about it from Brabantio (1.1.173-178; 1.2.63-81). Finally, we hear about it from Othello and Desdemona (1.3.130-172, 251-262). Explain these perspectives. How do they contradict one another? How do they complement one another?
- Iago's values and his conception of human nature are clearly stated by the end of Act I (cf. especially
1.3.322-405). Describe his character and list the motives you find for his hatred of Othello. See also 2.1.287-313.
- Describe Othello--his background, his experience, his character--as it appears from reading Act 1.
Wednesday, 14 July. Othello
- How often does Iago confide in the audience (4.1.44-48)? The effect?
- Examine the conversations between Othello and Desdemona in Acts 2 and 3. How does Shakespeare capture the qualities of an inexperienced relationship? What are the best examples?
- Evaluate Othello's reasons for killing Desdemona (4.1.208-210, 5.2.1-22). Compare also the emotional effect of the dramatized murder scene to these justifications. What effect is Shakespeare trying to achieve?
- Explain the dramatic effect of Emilia’s character.
- Othello thinks he was fated to this end (5.2.274) and looks forward to punishment that seems very much like a Christian version of hell. How are these notions compatible? How does Othello finally assess what he has done (5.2.348-366)?
- In what way is this play tragic?
Thursday 16 July. Jonson, Volpone
On the difference between Shakespeare and Jonson, Neville Coghill observes, ‘Compared with the comedies of Shakespeare, those of Ben Jonson are no laughing matter. A harsh ethic in them yokes punishment with derision; foibles are persecuted and vices flayed; the very simpletons are savaged for being what they are. The population ... [of] his comedies ... is a congeries of ... mountebanks, cozeners, dupes, braggarts, bullies, and bitches. No one loves anyone ....
In Shakespeare things are different. Princes and dukes, lords and ladies, jostle with merchants, weavers, joiners, country sluts, friendly rouges, schoolmasters, and village policemen, hardly one of whom is incapable of a generous impulse.’ Coghill states that faced with these two visions of life ‘a writer is wise if he follows his own temperament. Ben Jonson knotted his cat-o'-nine tails. Shakespeare reached for his Chaucer.’
Jonson is credited with originating this kind of satiric comedy, of which Volpone is his masterpiece. It is sometimes referred to as a comedy of "humors" (a contemporary medical and psychological term) because each of his characters is obsessed with seeing life from a single point of view.
- Examine the opening speech by Volpone and the rest by Mosca and Volpone's servants (I.i.1-81). What kind of imagery does Volpone associate with his treasure?
- What does Volpone value above gold? Why? What do Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvnio value? What are they willing to sacrifice for it?
- What did you find most amusing about Volpone’s role as Scoto of Mantua? How does he feel about Celia?
- In the characters of Sir Politick and Lady Would-be Jonson is satirizing the so called ‘Englishman Italianated.’ How smart are these characters? What effect does this subplot have on the play? How relevant is it?
2.The seduction of Celia is accompanied by the song, ‘Come my Celia, let us
prove …,’ a famous poem on the theme of carpe diem. How interested do you think Volpone finds Celia? How do you know?
- Volpone tells us that he did act in a play (3.7.162), and he certainly does a lot of acting in this play: he plays the role of a dying man (1.4, 1;5, 4.6), he plays the role of Scoto of Mantua (2.1), he wants to act out his sexual fantasies with Celia (3.7), later he plays the role of a dead person (5.3) and of a court official. How does acting become a metaphor for the plays themes? Occasionally Volpone senses that he has gone too far (3.8.15-22, 5.1.1-17, 5.11.1-9). Why does he continue?
Monday 20 July.
1st hour. Jonson, Volpone
- According to Coleridge the play would have been better if Celia and Bonario were made
young lovers. Evaluate.
- How is Mosca’s and Volpone’s love of deceit presented (3.1.1-9, 5.2..10-11, 111. 5.3.102-8). What image best expresses the pleasure they get from victimizing people? How might the 12st Avocatore’s comment (5.12.101-2) relate to this?
- Celia and Bonario believe that Heaven is just. How does Jonson make you believe that? What does the 1st Avocatore’s comment mean "Mischiefs feed/ Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed."? How appropriate to a comedy are the various punishments given to the malefactors?
2nd hour.Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
- In what ways are Olivia’s and Orsino’s attitudes alike? What is comic about them? In what way is Viola’s different from them?
2.What kind of character is Sir Toby? What does he want to do? What is amusing about him? What is not so amusing?
- In what way is Sir Andrew a different kind of comic character from the ones we have seen so far?
4, How does Feste’s first encounter with Olivia in 1.5.31-69 set him off as an interesting character?
Tuesday 21` July. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
- Feste’s songs almost always carry more emotional weight than their entertainment value requires. How does this work in relation to his song ‘O Mistress Mine’ (2.3)?
2.. How are fantasy narratives used (2.4.105-9 ‘My father had a daughter,’ 1.5.263-71 ‘Make me a willow cabin at your gate’) to create a sense of Viola’s interiority?
- Describe the comedy of 2.5. How does this overhearing scene go beyond what Shakespeare has done in Much Ado?
- Describe the comedy and pathos of Malvolio’s and Viola’s experience in 3.4.. To what extent are they funny? To what extent disturbing?
- Wisdom and Folly are reversed in 4.2 To what extent do comedy, pathos, and maliciousness interpenetrate in this scene? To what effect?
- Follow the relationship between Antonio and Sebastian. How connected to the homoeroticism of the play? To what effect?
- How satisfied are you with the resolution? Does it seem that the play pushes the boundary of comedy? How?
Wednesday 22 July