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ENGL309 – Shakespeare and the Renaissance

2017 – S2 Day

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor
Tony Cousins
Contact via tony.cousins@mq.edu.au
Lecturer
Stephanie Russo
Credit points Credit points
3
Prerequisites Prerequisites
6cp in ENGL units at 200 level
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
The unit considers a broad range of Shakespeare's writings in relation to writings by his contemporaries and by his successors – dramatists as well as non-dramatists. In doing so it examines how those texts at once represent and engage with issues and problems in the culture of early modern, or Renaissance, England. Those issues and problems include: issues of genre and of sexuality in verse of the 1590s; problems evoked in representations of tragic selfhood; problems associated with religious and political conflict; and problems arising from English portrayals both of England and of life outside it.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at http://students.mq.edu.au/student_admin/enrolmentguide/academicdates/

Learning Outcomes

  1. gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  2. gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  3. understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  4. understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  5. gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

General Assessment Information

In the case of each assignment, please also consult the 300-level grade descriptors, which can be viewed under "marking rubrics".

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Hurdle Due
Class Test/ Take home exam 20% No day of the lecture,week 3
Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1 30% as described
Final Essay 50% Sunday of Week 13

Class Test/ Take home exam

Due: day of the lecture,week 3
Weighting: 20%

Brief description:

The Class Test will be a 1,500 word essay, written at home for submission via Turnitin on the day of the lecture in Week 3. It will focus in particular on students' abilities to write close textual analysis. The Test will ask students to discuss "Astrophil and Stella", Sonnet 27, as printed in "The Norton Anthology of English Literature," Volume B. In writing on the poem, students should answer the question, 'How does Astrophil link experiencing desire with the experience of separation from others?' Students should focus on contradictions and tensions within the poem: on different worldviews being set in opposition, different senses of responsibility felt by the poem's speaker. One way of highlighting the interplay of worldviews, of values, of the speaker's responses to them, is to pay special attention to the imagery of the sonnet. What images seem in particular to emphasize how different meanings and values clash in Astrophil's experience of desire? Also, consider the different aspects or areas of human life that are evoked by Astrophil.

 

 


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1

Due: as described
Weighting: 30%

Brief description:

The tutorial presentation should be about 5-7 minutes maximum. Basically, it will be the presentation of a thesis with supporting evidence: in addition to providing some close textual analysis, students should find two recent journal articles or book chapters (written within the last 5 years) and refer to them in their discussions. The presentation will be developed into a 2,000-word essay and submitted in the following week--that is, on the day of the next tutorial (or, what would be the next tutorial if your presentation comes directly before one of the breaks).  The essay is graded but the presentation itself is not. Responses in class to the presentation should be considered when the essay is being finalized.

Students should NOT deliver the presentation merely by reading out their complete essay, if it is already written. Doing so will not count as having delivered the presentation.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Final Essay

Due: Sunday of Week 13
Weighting: 50%

Brief description:

An essay (2,500-3,000 words) in lieu of an examination, requiring that students examine at least 3 of the set texts. A text discussed in the First Essay or Class Test cannot be discussed in the Final Essay. The topics and questions for that Essay are designed to encourage independent analysis and research. Students will be asked to analyze texts closely, to link them, to suggest how they represent preoccupations in English Renaissance culture, and to engage with commentary on those texts. Since the final essay is in lieu of an exam, the paper is graded, with a general comment, but not annotated. Students wishing to have feedback on the essay can make an appointment to discuss it.

 

Topics and Questions for the Final Assignment

1. Discuss the different functions of soliloquies in three plays that you have studied this semester (that is, focus on at least one soliloquy from each play).

2. How are revenge and self-destruction linked--or not--by Shakespeare and by one other author?

3. What theoretical approach to Shakespeare--that is, what literary theory--have you found most useful in reading his texts? In your answer, discuss three Shakespearean plays that you have studied this semester.

4. Examine portrayals of the divine, or of religious experience, by three authors whose work you have studied in this unit: what do you see as their main differences between and among those portrayals?

5. Consider how the Petrarchan discourse of desire is re-created by any three of the writers studied this semester.

6. What different attitudes to male competitiveness are presented by any three writers studied in this unit?

7. Devise a topic of your own choosing—but consult your tutor before working on it.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Delivery and Resources

Students must: attend all tutorials; deliver a presentation in one of those tutorials (there will be no exceptions); submit the Class Test and the two essays. Attendance at lectures is advised.

Lecture (1 hour)

Tutorial (1 hour)

I-Learn

(as in previous delivery of unit)

There have been additional texts added to the non-dramatic literature studied in the unit.

Assignment Submission:

Essays are to be submitted via Turnitin.

Examination:

There is no examination.

Extensions and special consideration:

Extensions will be granted only for medical or other exceptional reasons.

 

  Required and recommended texts and/or materials

S. Greenblatt, et al., The Norton Shakespeare: Essential Plays/The Sonnets

S. Greenblatt, et. al., The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Ninth Edition,

Volume B

Recommended: L. Hopkins, Beginning Shakespeare

J. Coffin and R. Stacey, Western Civilizations, Volume 2

 

Unit Schedule

Week 1

Introduction:

"Shakespeare" and "the

Renaissance”

No tutorial

Week 2

Competing

Representations of

Sexuality in the 1590s.

(i) Rewriting the Petrarchan discourse of

desire: Sidney,

"Astrophil and Stella,"

Spenser, "Amoretti,"

Shakespeare, Sonnets

18 and 30, Drayton,

"Idea”

 

How is male sexual desire explored

in two of the poems set for study this week?

Week 3

Class Test submitted

 

No tutorial

Week 4

Competing

Representations of

Sexuality in the 1590s.

(ii) Liberating and

naturalising Ovid:

Donne's Elegies and

"Sappho to Philaenis";

Carew’s “A Rapture”

 

Donne's Elegies and

"Sappho to Philaenis"; Carew’s “A Rapture”:

How differently do Donne and Carew portray female sexual desire in the  poems set for this

week? You need discuss only one poem by Donne in relation to Carew’s poem.

 

Week 5

Sexuality and Selfhood.

(i) Donne, "Songs and

Sonnets" ("The Sun

Rising," "The

Apparition," “The Flea”, "The Relic");

Shakespeare, sonnets

20, 116 and 126

 

Donne's

“Songs and

Sonnets”; Shakespeare's

Sonnets:

Discuss the representations of gender in two poems set for study this

week.

Week 6

Sexuality and Selfhood.

(ii) Donne's "Holy

Sonnets"; Crashaw's

"The Flaming Heart";

Shakespeare, sonnets

144 and 146

Herbert’s “Death” and “Love (3)”

 

How are sexuality and the sacred brought together in any two of the poems set for study this week?

Week 7

Sexuality and Selfhood.

(iii) "Romeo and Juliet"

 

"Romeo and Juliet"

How does the play re-create the Petrarchan discourse of desire?

Week 8

Selfhood and Tragedy.

(i) "Hamlet"

 

“Hamlet"

Does Hamlet know who he is at the play's end?

Week 9

Selfhood and Tragedy.

(ii) "Macbeth"; Marvell's

"An Horatian Ode"

"Macbeth;" Marvell's "An

Horatian Ode":

To what extent are Shakespeare's Macbeth

and Marvell's Cromwell alike?

Week 10

Selfhood and Tragedy.

(iii) "King Lear"

“King Lear"

Discuss the different versions of “the natural” in Shakespeare’s

play.

Week 11

Imagining East and

West: "Othello"

 

“Othello"

Is Othello a hero or a puppet?

Week 12

Alternative Englands:

Ralegh, "A Vision upon

this Conceit of the Faery

Queene," Jonson's "To

Penshurst" and Marvell's

"Appleton House"

 

Set poems by Ralegh,

Jonson, and Marvell:

 Discuss the concepts of nationhood in two of the set poems.

Week 13

No lecture

No tutorial

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central. Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Academic Honesty Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/academic_honesty/policy.html

Assessment Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/assessment/policy_2016.html

Grade Appeal Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/gradeappeal/policy.html

Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/complaint_management/procedure.html​

Disruption to Studies Policy (in effect until Dec 4th, 2017): http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html

Special Consideration Policy (in effect from Dec 4th, 2017): https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policies/special-consideration

In addition, a number of other policies can be found in the Learning and Teaching Category of Policy Central.

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/support/student_conduct/

Results

Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Graduate Capabilities

Critical, Analytical and Integrative Thinking

We want our graduates to be capable of reasoning, questioning and analysing, and to integrate and synthesise learning and knowledge from a range of sources and environments; to be able to critique constraints, assumptions and limitations; to be able to think independently and systemically in relation to scholarly activity, in the workplace, and in the world. We want them to have a level of scientific and information technology literacy.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Problem Solving and Research Capability

Our graduates should be capable of researching; of analysing, and interpreting and assessing data and information in various forms; of drawing connections across fields of knowledge; and they should be able to relate their knowledge to complex situations at work or in the world, in order to diagnose and solve problems. We want them to have the confidence to take the initiative in doing so, within an awareness of their own limitations.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Creative and Innovative

Our graduates will also be capable of creative thinking and of creating knowledge. They will be imaginative and open to experience and capable of innovation at work and in the community. We want them to be engaged in applying their critical, creative thinking.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Effective Communication

We want to develop in our students the ability to communicate and convey their views in forms effective with different audiences. We want our graduates to take with them the capability to read, listen, question, gather and evaluate information resources in a variety of formats, assess, write clearly, speak effectively, and to use visual communication and communication technologies as appropriate.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Capable of Professional and Personal Judgement and Initiative

We want our graduates to have emotional intelligence and sound interpersonal skills and to demonstrate discernment and common sense in their professional and personal judgement. They will exercise initiative as needed. They will be capable of risk assessment, and be able to handle ambiguity and complexity, enabling them to be adaptable in diverse and changing environments.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Commitment to Continuous Learning

Our graduates will have enquiring minds and a literate curiosity which will lead them to pursue knowledge for its own sake. They will continue to pursue learning in their careers and as they participate in the world. They will be capable of reflecting on their experiences and relationships with others and the environment, learning from them, and growing - personally, professionally and socially.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Discipline Specific Knowledge and Skills

Our graduates will take with them the intellectual development, depth and breadth of knowledge, scholarly understanding, and specific subject content in their chosen fields to make them competent and confident in their subject or profession. They will be able to demonstrate, where relevant, professional technical competence and meet professional standards. They will be able to articulate the structure of knowledge of their discipline, be able to adapt discipline-specific knowledge to novel situations, and be able to contribute from their discipline to inter-disciplinary solutions to problems.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • gaining an understanding of key Shakespearean texts by close analysis and research (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining an understanding, in the same ways, of major non-Shakespearean texts of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding relations between texts by Shakespeare and those by his contemporaries (1-5, 8-9)
  • understanding how texts by his contemporaries relate to each other (1-5, 8-9)
  • gaining knowledge of how the set texts represent issues and problems recurrent in the culture of the English Renaissance (1-5, 8-9)

Assessment tasks

  • Class Test/ Take home exam
  • Tutorial Presentation/Essay 1
  • Final Essay

Lecture Notes

Lectures

Week 1

What we as individual readers think of Shakespeare—how we interpret his

texts—is always heavily but not totally conditioned by how our culture interprets

him at any given time: there is no unmediated or transparent view on Shakespeare and his works.

That is to say, our views on Shakespeare are coloured by the facts we possess and the ways in which our culture chooses, more or less by consensus (a consensus of disagreements), to make sense of them. We are confronted by the identity politics within the global Shakespeare industry.

That doesn’t mean we can think about Shakespeare

and his writings only in the terms available to us at any given time; but it does

mean that our thinking is conditioned directly or indirectly by them (and we have

to acknowledge that it is).

If there’s no single, uncoloured version available to us of who or what

Shakespeare was, nevertheless we can know something of the preoccupations that recur throughout his texts (and from them we can draw informed inferences as to what may be the dominant, competing worldviews at stake in his texts).

Here are some suggestions relevant to those preoccupations: that people are

driven irresistibly by their appetites—in defiance of convention, decorum, and

law; that people are much compelled by fear; that the will to power is everywhere

in human life—and that there is too little compassion in human interaction; that

our senses of what constitutes “the natural” or “the divine” are changeable and

contested; that we inhabit a physical world in constant flux and transformation, and marked by betrayal; that we ourselves are a mix of the recurring and the fluctuating, capable of sometimes unexpected transformations

 •

To say that leads here: to understand “Shakespeare” we need to see how his texts reflect, engage with, and re-imagine the culture from which they emerge.

That culture can be characterized by the terms “Renaissance” or “early

modern”—problematic but useful terms which involve allusion to classical and

(or) Christian paradigms. The first of those terms involves the idea of “rebirth” and is linked to the concept of “humanism”. The second leads to notions of the “modern” and the “postmodern”.

We can usefully consider those terms, moreover, in relation to issues of conflicting worldviews, hierarchy and surveillance, gender and sexuality

Suggested reading: Perry et al., Western Civilization (6th edn, 2000), 300-348,

Coffin/Stacey, Western Civilizations (2005), 434-529, Understanding Shakespeare, 5-35, Nauert, Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe (2nd edn, 2006). See also,  Starn, “A Postmodern Renaissance?” Renaissance Quarterly, 60 (2007), 1-24.

 

Week 2

The Petrarchan discourse of desire offers the most influential rhetoric of romantic

love in western culture

That rhetoric of love expresses a narcissistic male self, a Narcissus who is also a

kind of Pygmalion

He is, as well, divided against himself: torn between apparently irreconcilable

perspectives on the world (what might broadly be called the Christian and the

Ovidian)

Centuries after Petrarch first wrote, Sidney recreates the Petrarchan speaker,

locating him—and his inner warfare—in the culture of the English Renaissance. How did Sidney re-imagine Petrarch in order to naturalize him?

Spenser tries to reconcile the conflict of perspectives in Petrarchan discourse,

attempting to bring harmony out of discord by subsuming the secular in the

sacred, profane in sacred love

Shakespeare translates the conflicts of the Petrarchan discourse across genders,

beyond two lovers, and seems to place the experience of desire in an Ovidian

universe

Drayton’s sonnets suggest both the residual power of the Petrarchan rhetoric of

romantic love in early modern English culture and how tired readers are of seeing

that rhetoric used to describe the experience of desire

Suggested reading: Forster, The Icy Fire (1969), Bloom, ed., Petrarch (1989),

Sturm-Maddox, Petrarch’s Laurels (1992), Smith, Elizabethan Poetry, Low, The

Reinvention of Love, Dubrow, Echoes of Desire, Cousins, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 

Week 3 : Class Test submitted

 

Week 4

Donne’s Elegies are intended for a small and, predominantly, male readership

(what has been called, since the early 1900s, a coterie readership)

The poems draw attention to their ingenuity, their rhetorical virtuosity, and their

flouting of social decorum, of conventional pieties—a considered outrageousness

 

That outrageousness is, however, merely transgressive: that is to say, it offers a

conventional and contained flouting of convention. It is safe rather than dangerous, but sometimes it could be risk-taking

It does so primarily by presenting a Romanised rewriting of Donne’s London: a

London re-imagined as a city like Ovid’s Rome.

Donne thereby implies that he is a successor to Christopher Marlowe—an admirer of Ovid (in fact, the great rewriter of Ovid in Elizabethan literary culture) and the genius of the unconventional in Elizabethan literature. Donne, like Marlowe, turns his back on the contemporary practice of Christianising Ovid (in other words, of trying to make Ovid’s writings harmonise with Christian values)

Donne’s speakers in his Elegies have, at the same time, interesting and elemental similarities to the speaker of Petrarch’s love verse

Donne’s speakers put forward perspectives on experience that are narcissistic and androcentric—even (or, especially) in a poem on lesbian love, Sappho to

Philaenis

Donne’s speakers, like Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, seem driven by the will to

power as well as pleasure: power over women, over male rivals, over desire itself

Suggested reading: Marotti, John Donne: Coterie Poet, Low, The Reinvention of

Love, Dubrow, Echoes of Desire, Mousley, John Donne, Cousins, Donne and the

Resources of Kind

 

Week 5

Donne’s Songs and Sonnets offer deliberately divergent views on desire

They therefore affirm the insistence in early modern literary as well as visual

culture that desire is endlessly self-transforming and transformative

In fact they play with the idea, to be seen in Sidney and in Shakespeare also, that

desire is obsessive and endless

Some of the perspectives on desire—the narcissistic and the colonialist—voiced

in Donne’s Elegies recur in his Songs and Sonnets but new perspectives also

 appear

In particular, Donne’s love lyrics present eutopian visions of love: the notion that

love creates, for those who truly are in love, a “good place” (eutopia) that is their

private space within the great world

His lyrics of eutopian desire also suggest that true lovers become one selfhood—a single identity despite their physical individualities

Yet Donne’s speakers are invariably aware how precarious such assertions are,

and they consistently affirm but interrogate them. The know that love’s eutopia exists only as a fiction

The great challenges to the eutopian vision of desire (whatever form of desire

may be at issue in any given poem) are usually these: time, separation, betrayal,

death

The will to personal power and the impulse to mutuality are often in conflict

throughout the relationships depicted in Donne’s erotic verse

The myth of love’s eutopia is similarly explored by Shakespeare in Sonnet 112

Elsewhere, he uses other myths to suggest how the will to (personal) power and

the impulse to mutuality conflict in the human experience of desire

In particular, he deploys myths of Cupid, Venus, and Adonis—in connection with

notions of androgyny and of unity amidst multiplicity

Like Donne he both celebrates and questions: his idealizings are never simple,

never (in one way or another) unquestioned

Suggested reading: For Donne, as in Week 3; for Shakespeare, Dubrow, Captive

Victors, Cousins, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 

Week 6

Donne’s religious verse suggests that on earth there can be no “good place,” for

the only good place lies beyond time and change, in heaven

Therefore, all eutopian thinking about the self and the world is illusory—the invention of a ‘good place’ that is in fact a dangerous self-delusion

Moreover, the significant other in the religious verse is not someone who can be

manipulated or dominated—is someone who does not have to reply to the ingenious speeches of Donne’s personae

 

That other is, however exactly imagined, necessarily the ultimate Other:

complete, personal yet remote, merciful yet terrible

And before that Other the self is compelled to recognize and acknowledge its own necessary submissiveness or subordination, its own incapacity to control who it finally is and what will finally happen to it

How much control the self has over its experience is not clear in Donne’s Holy

Sonnets—which raises the question of the extent to which it is (i) feminized and

(ii) at different times voicing a Calvinist theology

Crashaw’s religious verse habitually celebrates female spiritual experience and

what could be called feminine spirituality in men (note: the soul was, in

Renaissance culture across Europe, almost always referred to or pictured as

female—with reference to the souls of both men and women). Crashaw is especially interested in the idea of female agency and heroism

Crashaw’s religious verse, although Catholic and not Protestant (as was Donne’s), although ecstatic in tone rather than argumentative, emphasizes submissiveness—and recurrently portrays that submissiveness by means of sexual metaphors.

In Shakespeare’s Sonnets, only two poems insistently present a religious world

view

One of those uses religion as a dramatic way of talking about sex; the other is—it might be argued—flatly conventional and stands out as the sole religious poem amidst the 154 poems that make up Shakespeare’s otherwise Ovidian sequence

We are left wondering how important religion is, or is not, to notions of selfhood

in the Sonnets, whereas, in Herbert’s poems, there is no selfhood outside religion. In his poems, there is an intricate and dramatic interplay among submission, transformation, and celebration. Selfhood is unstable and problematic and endlessly self-reflexive

Suggested reading: as for Week 5, with Cousins, The Catholic Religious Poets,

Corns, The Cambridge Companion, and Summers/Pebworth, Representing

Women

 

Week 7

Romeo and Juliet sets the Petrarchan discourse of desire amidst the socio-political pressures of an Italian city-state, Verona

We are shown from the start how those pressures or forces—for example the feud and family obligation—begin to transform the Petrarchan discourse and to be transformed by it

We are shown, too, that the Petrarchan discourse competes with other versions of desire, which is to say, other versions of what “love” is

And we begin to see that desire is (i) inseparable from violence in the world of the

play (ii) unconfinable by conventional social constraints

Desire breaks anarchically through constraint by family obligation, law, political

dictate, religious authority

Focusing on Romeo’s first speech suggests the extent to which his initial sense of sexuality and of selfhood has been shaped by Petrarchan cliché

Focusing on his first dialogue with Juliet suggests how she is aware of but has

moved beyond the merely clichéd Petrarchism espoused by and shaping Romeo

The lovers’ subsequent dialogue indicates that the socio-political realities of

Verona at once complement and heighten the Petrarchan discourse of desire as

acted out by Romeo and Juliet—transforming it and therefore transforming them

In the world of Verona, it is desirable that what might be called the Petrarchan

vision should alter: it should find fulfilment in marriage, since what the divided

city most requires is that harmony be brought out of discords

But can that happen in a place such as Verona? If it can (and bear in mind that

Petrarchan discourse suggests that the reconciliation of the opposites in which

desire is implicated cannot be possible) what is the cost—and are we left with the

idea that the Petrarchan discourse is essentially for adolescents, defining

adolescent sexuality and selfhood, unable to deal with or to survive the pressures

of the harsh world?

Suggested reading: Edwards, Shakespeare, Dutton, William Shakespeare, Ryan,

Shakespeare, Wells, Shakespeare, Gruber, Shakespeare After All. Cf. Gurr,

Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London, 154-55 and Hopkins, Beginning

Shakespeare, 134-61

 

Week 8

Now-contemporary criticism is divided as to whether tragedy was, in English

Renaissance culture, a subversive literary form: did it, at the least, raise issues and questions (political or otherwise) with which orthodox ways of thought could not satisfactorily deal?

Whatever we decide about that, we need to start our study of selfhood and

(Shakespearean) tragedy by recognizing that tragedy, as a concept in the drama of the English Renaissance, could take several (and sometimes related) forms

In Hamlet several of those forms interact: revenge tragedy; de casibus tragedy;

what might loosely be called Aristotelian tragedy; tyrant tragedy; the tragedy of

state; domestic tragedy

It is arguable that Hamlet’s father, Hamlet, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes, and

Ophelia are all caught up in their own tragedies, each of which is of course

connected with the tragic experience of the other characters

However not every character in the play (as named in the point above) can

recognize that the characters around him or her are caught up and largely defined by tragic circumstance

The three most important forms of tragedy in the play are: de casibus tragedy

(involving Hamlet’s father); revenge tragedy (involving especially Hamlet but

also Laertes); tyrant tragedy (involving chiefly Claudius)

The tragic power of the play comes in part, then, from a confluence of tragic

forms; but it comes too from the fact that some of those tragic forms are

destabilized or shown as inherently unstable (primarily and respectively, the de

casibus and revenge forms)

The tragedies and identities of Hamlet’s father and of Hamlet are therefore

particularly problematic

The tragedy of Hamlet himself lies in the fact that, as is the case with other of

Shakespeare’s tragic heroes, he decides to take on a role that is a radical departure from those in his customary repertoire—he commits himself in effect to taking on a new, conflicted identity

In the process of taking on that identity, that is to say, like other tragic heroes in

Shakespeare’s plays he does not extend or enlarge his sense of self but, rather,

loses himself

 It is loss of self, not loss of life, that marks the story of Hamlet as tragic—and it is

a story with only (imperfect) political closure

Suggested reading: the general studies of Shakespeare listed for the previous

week, along specifically for this week with (if possible) Greenblatt’s introduction

to his Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980), and also his Hamlet in Purgatory,

Hopkins, Beginning Shakespeare, 16-18 and 49-59, Curran, Hamlet,

Protestantism, and the Mourning of Contingency (2006).

 

Week 9

Shakespeare’s play and Marvell’s poem, like Hamlet, focus on tragedy in relation

to the death of a king

In Macbeth, the murder of King Duncan is shown, with a melodrama customary

in many early modern depictions of royal deaths, as having been a terrible

violation of the “natural” order

In An Horatian Ode, the execution of King Charles (son of James I, for whom

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth) is depicted as the consequence of “natural” forces at work

It is revealing to see how the representations of Duncan and Charles are alike

even though they are also obviously different

In Shakespeare’s play, Duncan’s murder follows from Macbeth’s having taken on

a role—an identity—alien to the overt conduct of his life so far

As a result of his forsaking one role for another, a sanctioned and public role for

what the play elaborately constructs as an illegitimate one that has been hitherto

concealed, Macbeth at once loses and fulfils who he is

Broadly speaking, then, his tragedy, like Hamlet’s, centres on loss of selfhood.

And like Hamlet, Macbeth desperately attempts before he dies to regain

something of what he was before he negated himself

Marvell indicates that Cromwell’s killing of Charles I has resulted not in loss or

diminution of selfhood but, rather, in allowing Cromwell scope to reveal his

“true” selfhood—his being in effect a king by “nature” though not by birth

Cromwell is shown, not without some wariness, as the man whose virtues and

preternatural talents give him a more than kingly—a more than merely

inherited—stature

The execution of Charles marks his personal story as a tragedy; but from that

tragedy, Marvell seems to imply, emerges a glorious future ordained by

Providence, which is much the point Shakespeare makes in Macbeth about the

murder of Duncan

Suggested reading: the general commentary as for the previous week, but

specifically here with (if possible) Kinney, Lies Like Truth (2001), Shakespeare’s

Webs, and Shakespeare and Cognition (2006), Batson, Shakespeare’s Christianity (2006)

 

Week 10

King Lear, like the two plays immediately preceding it, involves the death of a

king

In the cases of Hamlet and of Macbeth, the royal deaths are followed ultimately

by political renewal (which is problematic, as we have seen, in the former)

The structure of government in Britain after Lear’s death seems, however, far

from clear or secure

Those concerns are foreshadowed from the play’s very beginning, for despite its

chronologically remote setting the play opens with what were very topical

concerns for Shakespeare’s audience: inheritance, and civil war.

Lear reveals in the opening scene that he views himself as a king and father who

has a divinely ordained authority

In that respect, Lear’s characterization focuses the audience’s attention on

political issues that in Shakespeare’s time were highly sensitive: absolutist

kingship and its claim to be by divine right

Lear remakes his kingdom, dividing it against itself; in doing so, he reveals that

he knows neither himself nor his children—and, in particular, that he does not

understand how his authority—and therefore how his sense of self—are

constituted

Believing himself divinely appointed to rule, and hence uniquely as well as

innately important, Lear does not understand that he is a human being who holds

authority by virtue of a socio-political structure rather than by some divine fiat

(that his authority is man-made and can be man-unmade: which it is, ironically,

by himself)

The fall of Lear from high estate (de casibus tragedy) because of his arrogant

belief that, as a person, he transcends ordinary humanity (Aristotle’s idea of a

“tragic flaw” is relevant here) involves loss of self and a remaking of self

Yet Lear’s remaking of self is flawed—and his tragedy is at once the tragedy of

his daughter Cordelia, of his personal followers, and of his kingdom, which

experiences both civil war and invasion

As the various tragedies of the play unfold, several questions are set before the

audience again and again but no resolution of those questions is offered beyond

that severally attempted by some of the play’s characters

Those questions include: what is the “natural”? is human life framed by divine

powers? If there are divine powers, how do they relate to us and we to them?

Most important, perhaps, is this question: is human life merely knowable through,

or as, the interplay of worldviews—the polyphony of ideologies?

Suggested reading: the general studies of Shakespeare listed for the previous

week, along specifically for this week with (if possible) Elton, King Lear and the

Gods (1966), Ryan, King Lear (1992), Howard/Dutton, A Companion to

Shakespeare’s Works: The Tragedies (2003), Hopkins, Beginning Shakespeare,

142-44, Nuttall, Shakespeare the Thinker

 

Week 11

· Othello is set, at least initially, in the Venetian Republic and not a kingdom;

moreover it is about a princely figure—not a king—who is non-European

Yet it is focused precisely on the fall of that princely figure, on his “tragic flaw”

of jealousy, and on his loss as well as his attempted recuperation of selfhood

That process of loss and attempted recuperation, always marked by self-division,

forms part of the East-West dialectic established by the play: between Europe and Africa; between Europe and the Ottoman Empire; between Christianity and Islam

It is a process enacted in no small part through the power of fictionality, the

power of theatre—self-transformation and transformation into the other are achieved through fictions and

Through his power to fashion eloquent fictions, Othello constructs himself, in an

alien world, as an heroic exotic: thus his colour is both what makes him

vulnerable (even in so cosmopolitan an area of Europe as Venice) and what

facilitates his ambition to stand out beyond rivals

That is to say, Othello achieves distinction by means of real military gifts,

genuinely heroic virtue (in a martial sense)—but he knows how to present himself

as a romantic figure, a romance hero who is exotic and mysterious

Iago—altogether a smaller figure than Othello, and a curiously hollow figure as

well (“I am not what I am)”—understands the power of fiction-making and of

theatre as thoroughly as does Othello

Driven by jealousy (although exactly why remains unclear), yet in no way tragic,

he knows how to undo the romance narratives spun by Othello.

And he knows how to script, improvise, perform in and direct episodes of theatre

Othello constructs himself within romance genres; Iago, within anti-romance

genres (but is he more than a collection of improvised selves?)

Desdemona, Cassio, and other characters find themselves caught up in the clash

of fictions, in theatrical moments of others’ making, without understanding the

extent to which their social world is made up of those fictions and those moments

Hence they are caught up in tragedies or near-tragedies of their own, in a world

textured by and largely known through illusion—a major example of which is the

polarising of East and West

Suggested reading: the general studies of Shakespeare listed for the previous

week, along specifically for this week with (if possible) Orlin, Othello (2003),

Hopkins, Beginning Shakespeare, 183-87

 

Week 12

Ralegh’s poem offers a version of the translatio imperii et studii motif: the

notional movement of political authority and of culture westward after the fall of

Troy. In this case, movement to England—implied here as becoming the centre of a reborn Roman empire

The pattern of that England-focused movement, as suggested by the poem, can be traced along several lines: authorial, geographic/historical, erotic

Homer—(Virgil) Petrarch—Spenser (Ralegh)

Classical Greece—imperial Rome—London

(Helen of Troy) Vesta—Laura—Elizabeth I

As we follow those lines of descent, we are left wondering how many subjects of

praise Ralegh’s short, dramatic and colourful poem in fact has, or who is the main one

Jonson’s poem is one of the first country house poems

Such poems present eutopian fictions, in which a great house on a country estate

is portrayed as the centrepiece of an harmonious, morally stable, and productive

community: a microcosmically ideal society

Jonson tries, in the case of his poem, to portray life at Penshurst Place as a

miniature of life as it might be lived—not as it is actually lived—under the rule of

James I

He tries to create an anglocentric fiction which is serio-ludic, one which will

thereby allow him to celebrate England’s monarchic system of government and

yet seem to retain personal independence within it

The key rhetorical tactic to consider, when watching Jonson’s political fiction

unfold, is hyperbole—a tactic Jonson often uses when celebrating his social

superiors

Marvell’s poem was written after the English civil war, and the beheading of

James I’s son, Charles

It celebrates life on the estate of Thomas Fairfax, until recently one of the two

most powerful men in England

The dilemma facing Marvell is this: how to celebrate a general who has retreated

to life in the country, abandoning public life and its responsibilities

Marvell tries two solutions: (i) to suggest that life on Fairfax’s country estate,

centred on his home, Nun Appleton, forms an example of how a truly protestant

mode of being can all but perfect human existence (ii) to suggest that from

Fairfax’s protestant eutopia is emerging the to-be messianic figure of his

daughter, Maria

Marvell’s country house poem mingles, however, celebration with nostalgia and

with the ludicrous (the playfully ridiculous)—undermining nationalism at the

same time as it is asserted

Suggested reading: Smith, Elizabethan Poetry,

Berry, Of Chastity and Power,

Cousins, Andrew Marvell,

Harp/Stewart, The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson       

Marking Rubrics

University Grading Policy

http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/grading/policy.html

 

The grade a student receives will signify their overall performance in meeting the learning outcomes of a unit of study. Grades will not be awarded by reference to the achievement of other students nor allocated to fit a predetermined distribution. In determining a grade, due weight will be given to the learning outcomes and level of a unit (ie 100, 200, 300, 800 etc). Graded units will use the following grades:

HD High Distinction - 85-100

D Distinction        - 75-84

Cr Credit               - 65-74

P Pass                - 50-64

F Fail                  - 0-49

 

Criterion

High

Distinction

Distinction

Credit

Pass

Fail

Relation-ship

to topic or

task

Highly

sophisticated

demonstrated

understand-ing

of the task;

excellent

knowledge of

implicit or

embedded

aspects;

provides

substantial

number of

additional

insights

Superior

demonstrated

understand-ing

of the task;

superior

knowledge of

implicit or

embedded

aspects;

provides some

additional

insights

Good

Demonstra-ted understand-ing

of the task;

some

knowledge of

implicit or

embedded

aspects; may

provide some

additional

insights

Adequate

demonstrated

understand-ing of

the task. Some

understand-ing of

relevant

concepts but

these may not be

incorporated in a

productive

manner

Does not

demonstrate

understand-ing of the

task/topic or

fundament-ally

misinterp-rets

what is being

asked.

Knowledge

of literary/

critical

concepts

Highly

sophisticated

demonstrat-ed

understand-ing

of critical

concepts and

how these can

be applied to

texts.

Superior

demonstrated

understand-ing

of critical

concepts and

how these can

be applied to

texts.

Good

demonstrated

understanding

of critical

concepts and

how these can

be applied to

texts (provides

evidence of

learning that

goes beyond

replication of

lecture/semin-ar content)

 

Adequate

demonstrated

understanding of

critical concepts

and how these

can be applied

to texts (relevant

concepts can be

applied to texts

in a basic

manner)

Does not

Demonstrat-ed

Understand-ing of critical

concepts;

fails to apply

such concepts

to texts

Develop-ment of

Indepen-dent

critical

argument

Substantial

originality and

insight in

identifying,

generating and

communicat-ing a convincing

critical

argument

Originality

and insight in

identifying,

generating and

communicat-ing a coherent

critical

argument

Generates an

adequate,

critical

argument that

is supported

by primary

and secondary

evidence.

Minimal

evidence of

critical

argument

(argument is

simplistic and

underdevelop-ed

Does not

construct a

coherent

critical

argument.

Analysis of

narrative

strategies /

literary

technique/

theories

Highly

sophisticated

and original

analysis of

narrative

strategies/

literary

technique/

theories

Superior

analysis of

narrative

strategies/

literary

technique/

theories

Some analysis

of narrative

strategies/

literary

technique/

theories, but

still reliant on

plot/story

elements for

argument

Limited analysis

of narrative

strategies/

literary

technique/

theories and

heavy reliance

on plot/story

elements for

argument

Failure to

analyse

narrative

strategies/

literary

technique/

theories.

Total reliance

on plot/story

Selection

and analysis

of examples

from text(s)

Highly

sophisticated

selection and

analysis of

examples from

texts

Superior

selection and

analysis of

examples from

texts

Effective

selection and

analysis of

examples from

texts – but

some aspects

problematic

 

Examples from

text included but

these examples

not selected or

analysed

effectively

Failure to

analyse

specific

examples

from the text;

incorrect use

of citations

 

Evidence of

secondary

research

Sophisticated

use of research

to support and

extend ideas

Research

clearly

connected to

ideas; citations

correct

Evidence of

research used

to support

ideas, but

research not

always used

effectively

(e.g. citations

substituted for

original

argument)

Some research

used but fails to

support ideas

Lack of

appropriate

research.

Presentation

(language

and

expression)

Highly

sophisticated

and effective

expression that

is appropriate

to the task.

Superior

expression that

is appropriate

to the task.

Good

expression.

Some

improvement

needed in

relation to

expression of

ideas and

articulation of

argument.

Adequate use of

language.

Numerous

mistakes in

expression or

grammar.

Sub-standard

use of

language.

Substantial

mistakes in

grammar

and/or

awkward

expression.

Selected Reading List

Some General Studies of Shakespeare

Edwards, Shakespeare, (1986)

Dutton, William Shakespeare, (1989)

Ryan, Shakespeare, (1989)

Wells, Shakespeare, (1994)

Bate, The Genius of Shakespeare, (1997)

Wells, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2001 and thereafter)

Gruber, Shakespeare After All (2004)

Dutton/Howard, A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works (2005)

Hopkins, Beginning Shakespeare (2005)

Cheney, Shakespeare: National Poet-Playwright (2005)

Ackroyd, Shakespeare the Biography (2005)

Wells, Shakespeare and Co.. (2007)

Bate, Soul of the Age (2008)

Cousins, The Shakespeare Encyclopedia (2009)

Potter, The Life of William Shakespeare (2012)

Skinner, Forensic Shakespeare (2014)

--, The Shakespeare Big Book (2015)

Wells, Shakespeare: From Page to Stage (2016)

Some Studies of English Literary Culture in the 1590s (as well as before, and after, that decade)

Smith, Elizabethan Poetry (1952)

Kermode, Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne, (1971)

Mack and Lord, eds, Poetic Traditions of the English Renaissance, (1982)

Ferry, The “Inward” Language, (1983)

Berry, Of Chastity and Power, (1989)

Crewe, Trials of Authorship (1990)

Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England, (1991)

Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood, (1992)

 Knapp, An Empire Nowhere, (1992)

Low, The Reinvention of Love, (1993)

Corns, ed, The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry, Donne to Marvell (1993)

Schleiner, Tudor and Stuart Women Writers, (1994)

Henderson, Passion Made Public, (1995)

Manley, Literature and Culture in Early Modern London, (1995)

Dubrow, Echoes of Desire: English Petrarchism and Its Counterdiscourses (1995)

Gurr, Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London (2nd edn, 1996)

McEachern, The Poetics of English Nationhood (1996)

Biester, Lyric Wonder (1996)

Kinney, The Cambridge Companion to English Literature 1500-1600 (2000)

Hattaway, A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture (2002)

Fowler, Renaissance Realism (2003)

Turner, The English Renaissance Stage (2006)

Dubrow, The Challenges of Orpheus (2008)

Sharpe, Image Wars (2010)

Cousins and Howarth, The Cambridge Companion to the Sonnet (2011)

Cousins and Payne, Home and Nation in British Literature between the English and the French Revolutions (2015)

 

Some Specific Studies of Shakespeare (a brief selection)

Bradley, Shakespearean

Paster, The Idea of the City in the Age of Shakespeare, (1985)

Dubrow, Captive Victors, (1987)

Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations, (1988)—see also his Hamlet in Purgatory (2002)

Marcus, Puzzling Shakespeare, (1988)

Cox, Shakespeare and the Dramaturgy of Power, (1989)

Bate, Shakespeare and Ovid, (1993)

Sorelius, Shakespeare's Early Comedies, (1993)

Woodbridge, The Scythe of Saturn, (1994)

Gillies, Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference, (1994)

Dubrow, Shakespeare and Domestic Loss (1999)

Cousins, Shakespeare's Sonnets and Narrative Poems, (2000)

Foakes, Shakespeare and Violence (2003)

Cheney, Shakespeare, National Poet-Playwright (2004)

Kinney, Shakespeare’s Webs (2004)

Rosenbaum, The Shakespeare Wars (2006)

Hanke and Spiller, Ten Shakespeare Sonnets (2006)

Nuttall, Shakespeare the Thinker (2007)

Schoenfeldt, A Companion to Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2007)

Blades, Shakespeare: The Sonnets (2007)

Callaghan, Who Was William Shakespeare? (2013)

Post, The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare’s Poetry (2013)

Gray and Cox, Shakespeare and Renaissance Ethics (2014)

 

Some Specific Studies of Other Writers—points from which to begin

Chernaik, The Poet's Time, (on Marvell; 1983)

Marotti, John Donne, (1986)

 Docherty, John Donne Undone, (1986)

Evans, Ben Jonson and the Poetry of Patronage, (1989)

Condren and Cousins, eds, The Political Identity of Andrew Marvell, (1990)

Cousins, The Catholic Religious Poets from Southwell to Crashaw, (1991)

Summers/Pebworth, Representing Women in Renaissance England (with reference to Crashaw, 1997)

Mousley, John Donne (1999)

Harp/Stewart, The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson (2000)

Cousins and Grace, eds, Donne and The Resources of Kind (2002)

McCoy, Alterations of State (with reference to Marvell; 2002)

Barton, Ben Jonson: Dramatist (2004)

Guibbory, The Cambridge Companion to John Donne (2006)

Stubbs, John Donne (2007)

Cousins and Scott, Ben Jonson and the Politics of Genre (2009)

Cousins, Pleasure and Gender in the Writings of Thomas More (2010)

Faust, Andrew Marvell’s Liminal Lyrics (2012)

Drury, Music at Midnight (2013: on George Herbert)

Cousins, Andrew Marvell (2016)

 

The MLA Annual Bibliography offers a comprehensive list of publications on

Shakespeare and on writings of the English Renaissance.