Academic year
2019/2020 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LMJ170 (AF:309894 AR:166953)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Class 1
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course generally aims to develop students’ proficiency in the field of the history of English literature and culture of the early modern period (16th and 17th centuries). Students will enhance their skills in textual analysis of poetical works, and in relating literary texts to their historical and cultural contexts.
This first-year course is part of the syllabus of EUROPEAN JOINT DEGREE IN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN STUDIES, and the competence achieved will be tested in the foreign universities where Joint Degree students spend a semester as part of the programme, in interaction with international students.
The analytic skills students have learnt to use in their BA course will be further verified and developed, to include knowledge of literary history, rhetoric, philology, critical methodology, and theory.
In addition, they will broaden their experience in autonomous work and in discussing the results of their own research.
Only postgraduate students are allowed to attend the course. Different cases will be individually examined.
Classes will be held in English. Students must therefore be able to understand and critically discuss literary and cultural topics of the English Renaissance.
Some knowledge of Latin would be helpful and appreciated.
Influences and exchanges of myths, ideas, and forms in Early Modern English Literature.

At the rise of the early modern English era, Tudor culture was deeply imbued with a sense of the classical past, and authors and texts re-echoed Latin literature. Knowledge of contemporary languages, such as French and especially Italian, was responsible for the powerful influence continental Renaissance had on England. In comparison with the Italian “Rinascimento”, the rediscovery of the ancients, Humanism, Neoplatonism, as well as new poetical forms, arrived in England almost a century later, but the encounter with a different political and economic milieu produced the flowering of literature and theatre that had its climax in the so called “golden age”, under Elizabeth I.
Although Europe was plagued by wars of religion and all countries had taken up arms against each other, secular ideas and art were circulating freely and uniting peoples and cultures.
The course highlights the value of the humanities in shaping worldviews, and will focus on the complex network of exchanges and influences characterizing early modern English literature, from the re-reading of ancient authors (such as Lucretius, Virgil, Plutarch, and Ovid) to the literary dialogue with Italian writers (such as Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Bruno), and with French writers (such as Montaigne).
Both poetry (Sidney, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, etc.) and drama (Shakespeare, etc.) will be studied.
Primary texts:
The Penguin book of Renaissance verse, edited by David Norbrook and H. R.Woudhuysen, London: Penguin Books, 1993
C. Marlowe, Hero and Leander
W. Shakespeare, As You Like It

Secondary readings:
Students are requested to study two of the following books, at their own choice:
Barkan, Leonard, The gods made flesh : metamorphosis and the pursuit of paganism, New Haven: Yale University press, 1986
Bate, Jonathan, Shakespeare and Ovid, Oxford: Clarendon press, 1994
Greenblatt, Stephen, The swerve : how the Renaissance began, New York: Vintage books, 2012
Greene, Thomas M., The Light in Troy : Imitation and Discovery in Renaissance Poetry, New Haven [USA]: Yale University Press, 1982
Hopkins, David and Martindale, Charles, Horace made new : Horatian influences on British writing from the Renaissance to the twentieth century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993
Martindale, Charles, John Milton and the transformation of ancient epic, London: Croom Helm, 1986
Martindale, Charles, Ovid renewed: Ovidian influences on literature and art from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988
Martindale, Charles; and Taylor, A. B., Shakespeare and the classics, Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 2004

Additional bibliography
Suggested background studies (histories of literature, prosody, etc.):
The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature, edited by D. Loewenstein and J. Mueller, Cambridge University Press
Renaissance Literature and Culture, edited by L. Hopkins and M. Steggle, Continuum Books
Seventeenth Century Literature and Culture, edited by J. Daems, Continuum Books
English Poetry and Prose 1540-1674, edited by C. Ricks, The Penguin History of Literature, 1970
P. Hobsbaum, Metre, Rhythm and Verse Form, The New Critical Idiom, Routledge, 1996

A detailed list of poems and more critical bibliography might be provided later
Students are expected to do individual presentations on selected topics during the course, and will eventually be evaluated in an oral examination. They will have to prove they know the primary texts and the secondary critical essays that will be suggested. The exam will be in English and the levels of linguistic knowledge and of the ability to communicate will be part of the assessment, as well as the skills to make autonomous judgments.
60 hours of seminars, with two two-hour classes per week. After some introductory lessons given by the teacher, the course will include students' discussion, presentations and independent research projects.
Students are expected to do oral presentations on relevant topics.
Students unable to attend at least 2/3 of the course, shall write a paper of 4000 words on a topic to be agreed upon with the teacher and to be submitted at least two weeks before the exam as a hard copy. They must also choose three books instead of two in the list of critical texts.

This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Human capital, health, education" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 18/10/2019