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In recent decades, scholars working in the early modern period have been at the vanguard of literary studies. To cite just one example, some of the earliest practitioners of New Historicism, such as Stephen Greenblatt and the late Richard Helgerson, worked in the early modern period. The question we are contemplating this year is simple: where is early modern studies headed? What's next? Does the future lie in advancing or revisiting existing approaches, such as still newer historicism, or something different altogether? In addition to exploring this question theoretically, we are also interested in new pedagogical and critical practices.

Future of Literary Studies, 1500-1800 Courses

(Winter 2010) ENGL 165PC: Popular and Elite Culture in Early Modern England (Undergraduate)
This course will investigate the relationship between popular and elite literature in the early modern period. We will begin with Tottel's Miscellany and A Handful of Pleasant Delights, two poetic miscellanies with much in common stylistically, yet marketed in very different ways. We will then look works such as Sidney's Defense of Poetry, the Harvey/Spenser letters, and other critical works on poetry of the time. We will then contrast the works of Spenser and Sidney and Ben Jonson, with those of popular writers like William Elderton, Thomas Deloney, and Martin Parker. The course will end with Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, a play that draws on both elite literary works, such as masques, and popular culture, such as ballads. This play will provide a way to tie the course together through investigating the distinctions, commonalities, and ambiguities in the relationship between elite and popular culture.

Future of Literary Studies, 1500-1800 Links

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