Donald W. Gilbert
C LIT 361
Explores topics in literature and cultures of the early modern world (approximately 1400-1800) across national and regional cultures, such as particular movements, authors, genres, themes, or problems.
Early Modern Subjects
The Renaissance—or early modern period—is marked by a radical re-orientation in how human beings think about their place in the universe. In the wake of a medieval pessimism that tended to view humanity as the passive victim of largely uncontrollable external forces, the new voices that emerge in this period, working in all manner of disciplines, begin to re-think the individual’s relationship to the environment—political and social, but also natural. The result is a proliferation of discourses, some subversive, some deeply attached to inherited power structures, but all preparing the way for our modern sense of who we are as human beings.
In ten weeks, we can only scratch the surface of this very large topic, and I have chosen a sampling of texts that is designed to provide some sense of the varied ways in which the question of subjectivity is re-configured throughout the early modern period.
Readings: Cervantes, Exemplary Stories (selections) Erasmus, Praise of Folly Galileo, The Starry Messenger Las Casas, Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies Machiavelli, The Prince Montaigne, Essays (selections) Shakespeare, The Tempest
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