British literature in seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Study of literature in its cultural context, with attention to changes in form, content, and style.
What was it like to live in the body during the early modern period? How did lived experience interact with the ways in which the body was imagined and represented in the literature and the visual arts of the age? Engaging with a fascinating field of interdisciplinary studies, this course will introduce you to the ways in which people during the early modern age gave meaning to the idea of the human body. We will look at a range of literary, non-literary, and visual texts--paintings, plays, poems, essays, woodcuts, medical treatises etc-- as well as recent critical and theoretical essays to understand how the human body functioned as a metaphor for aesthetic perfection and for gender, power, racial and social distinctions. Key themes will include the ideal body and aesthetics; anatomical dissections; the theory of bodily humors; identity and interiority; the body and the cosmos; mystical kingship; sexuality; women’s beauty and cosmetics; clothing and manners; the deformed and the monstrous body; the spectacle of the black body; and disease and pollution. Requirements: two analytical papers (5-7 pages each), a midterm, a final exam, multiple one-page responses, and energetic participation.
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