ENG 440Y1Y L5101

Department of English / University of Toronto


Studies in Renaissance Literature and Language

This advanced seminar course studies representative plays, poetry, and prose from the English Renaissance in the context of the language of the period, Early Modern English. These literary works demonstrate the great artistic and intellectual richness of their period, but they cannot be understood without knowing the linguistic theory and practice accepted unselfconsciously by speakers of Early Modern English. The language of Shakespeare might as well be a foreign tongue to most modern readers. Expertise in understanding this older English is not easily won. It will not be had only by reviewing the Oxford English Dictionary and the annotations of modern editors, although both are a good start. We need original language materials of the period, such as Early English Books Online and the Early Modern English Dictionaries Database (EMEDD). Our goal is to interpret selected literary works as contemporaries would have. To do so, we will have to relearn our language as if we lived 400 years ago.

Required Reading

Most of our texts are now available on-line, but not in editions with the most scholarly commentary. Rather than buy many individual editions (anthologies no longer exist outside the Norton), we will jointly use the on-line versions but individually carry to class whatever English Renaissance editions we may have in our personal libraries from previous courses or we can borrow from university libraries. Everyone, however, must have Görlach's Introduction. It is available from the Bob Miller Bookroom on Bloor and Avenue Road.

Method of Evaluation

This is an advanced 400-series seminar that proceeds by discussion. It is not a lecture course. All students must attend the weekly seminar and participate in discussion.

Draft Schedule

Selected Printed Books

Selected On-line Resources