ENGL 331: Renaissance Literature, Spring, 2002 Dr. Debora B. Schwartz 
Class meetings: MW 10-12, Rm. 34-228 http://www.calpoly.edu/~dschwart
Office: 47-35G, tel. 756-2636  Main English Office:  756-2597
Office Hours: M 12-1, W 9-10, and by appt. e-mail: dschwart@calpoly.edu

Calendar of Assignments: Please note that the on-line syllabus (not any printout you might make) is authoritative.  Assignments may be changed or modified in the course of the quarter.  Check the on-line syllabus regularly (before each class) to ensure that you are completing correct assignment.  To find the on-line syllabus, point your Web browser to 


Study Guides: Images and Web links: Other Handouts:

Prerequisites:  ENGL 114 (old GE) or 134 (new GE); AND ENGL 215 (old GE) or ENGL 145 (new GE); AND ENGL 203 or 204 or 230 or 231or 251 or 252 or 253, or consent of instructor.

General Information:  This is a writing-intensive, upper-division literature course which fulfills the new GE Area C4 (old GE area C3) requirement.  This class may be taken by students wishing to fulfill the Graduate Writing Requirement.  However, please be aware that successful completion of the course does NOT guarantee GWR certification!  To achieve GWR certification, you must 1) have junior or senior standing; 2) pass the class with a grade of "C" or better (a C- is not adequate); and 3) WRITE A GWR-CERTIFIABLE ESSAY on the essay portion of either the midterm or the final exam.  To achieve GWR certification, your exam essay must conform to the standards for formal analytic writing about literature:  it must present a valid argument (appropiate content), be logically organized, illustrated with appropriate and adequate textual support, and written using correct mechanics (grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, etc.) and in the style appropriate to this kind of writing.  Please note that there is NO FORMAL WRITING INSTRUCTION in this course; see the Paper Writing Guidelines and Essay Evaluation Sheet if you are unsure about the conventions of formal analytic writing about literature.  Because the final course grade is based upon many factors, not just the exam essay, IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE A HIGH GRADE IN THE CLASS BUT NOT EARN GWR CERTIFICATION.  As a rule, all students seeking GWR certification do NOT earn it through this course.  In other words:  if GWR certification is the ONLY reason you have enrolled in this class, you should seriously consider other options.

Class email alias:  Important announcements concerning this class will be sent over the class email alias: engl-0331-01-022@calpoly.edu.  The class email alias is automatically generated using the email address of each enrolled student found in the Cal Poly Directory server. If your Cal Poly email account is NOT your preferred email address, you must do two things:

1) Log into http://my.calpoly.edu/ and use the Personal Information Channel to change your Email Delivery Address. Email sent to your <username@calpoly.edu> will go to that address.
2)  Follow the instructions at http://email.calpoly.edu/webfrwrd.html to redirect mail from your Cal Poly OpenMail account. This step is necessary so that email sent directly to that account will get to you.

You are expected to have an email account and to check it regularly; you will be held responsible for any information (including changes in assignments) sent over the alias.  You can use the class email alias to send a RELEVANT query or comment to the whole class (including your instructor).  Please do not use the email alias for matters unrelated to the class.

Other:  You are encouraged to visit the Renaissance and Early Modern collections of the GETTY MUSEUM with members of the class or on your own.  Extra Credit is available for completing a written assignment focusing on the manuscripts, sculpture and painting on display at the museum (which you can also explore on its website); see me for specifics.
Required Text: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th ed. (2000), vol. 1b, The Sixteenth Century; The Early Seventeenth Century, eds. George M. Logan, Stephen Greenblatt, and Barbara K. Lewalski
Recommended Texts:  Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th ed. (1999)
M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th edition (1999)

Course Objectives:

ENGL 331 presents significant writers and literary works of the English Renaissance and early 17th century in their historical and cultural context. Despite an astonishing proliferation of English writings during this period (due to the shift from a manuscript to a print culture, the increasingly literate populace, the Humanist and Reformation movements, among other factors), English was still considered less "literary" than Latin and Greek, the languages of classical antiquity. While tracing the evolution of three principal genres -- lyric poetry, theater, and the epic -- we will explore the ways in which Renaissance and early 17th-century writers in England sought to establish and defend the literary legitimacy of the English tongue. In addition to the tension between Latin and the vernacular, we will notice other tensions -- between various religious and political factions, between European "civilization" and the New World, between the genders -- in our readings.

Preliminary Remarks:

Much of what is presented will be new to most of you, and many of the readings reflect assumptions and ideas that appear strange to a 21st-century audience. For these reasons, several remarks are in order.

1) Survey courses cover lots of ground, and can be frustrating at times. The material is complex and challenging, the pace brisk. Invariably, there will be topics/authors that you find hard to grasp or simply don't enjoy. When this occurs, please keep in mind that you are not expected to master ANY of the material presented to the same degree as in a 400-level course with a narrower focus. This reminder does NOT mean that you do not need to read carefully. It DOES mean that you should not torture yourself if the details of a given text prove difficult to grasp. We are looking for the broad picture, not the close-up; the idea is to provide you with a sense of the way in which English literature -- and English perceptions of what literature is -- evolved during the course of the Renaissance and early 17th century. Readings will be considered as cultural artifacts, contextual evidence reflecting the "world view" of the author and period in which they were written.

2) During this period, literature was intimately linked with both politics and religion. There was no separation of Church and State: religion played a significant role in educational opportunities, social standing, and career success. For this reason -- and because the Bible, along with classical literature, was the primary model for the Book in the Renaissance -- many readings deal with Christian themes. We will approach them as cultural artifacts rather than articles of faith, attempting to understand the society which produced them and the world view they represent. While students familiar with the Bible will find this background useful, no prior knowledge of Judeo-Christian tradition is assumed or required. If something puzzles you, try the following (in this order!): a) check the footnotes and/or introduction to see if an explanation is provided; b) consult a dictionary or encyclopedia; and c) ask about it in class or office hours. (Chances are, someone else is just as puzzled as you are!)

3) Due to time constraints, class will focus on interpretation rather than description. Familiarity with the assigned background and primary readings will be assumed. Readings will NOT be summarized in class (which ideally should combine discussion with lecture). Thus, the success of ENGL 331 depends largely on you. Please make a personal commitment to come to class regularly, punctually, and prepared. Without these preconditions, ENGL 331 will be of little use to you -- and no fun for any of us! SO: be prepared for an intense quarter. But also remember that I LOVE teaching this stuff, and expect to have fun!


No prior familiarity with the Renaissance and early 17th century is presupposed for ENGL 331 -- I will endeavor to give you all the guidance you need for an initial reading of these works. Do the assigned readings conscientiously, USING THE STUDY GUIDES, and you will do fine. If you're having problems, please come see me about it!!

ENGL 331 is reading-intensive. You will need more time for these readings than for a similar number of pages in a modern novel. Budget time to complete readings BEFORE class on the date assigned. Read background materials first; they provide the context within which primary readings will be most meaningful. If you run out of time, don't skip class; read the headnote and as much as possible of the primary readings, and go back to fill in the details after class discussion.

Study Guides will be provided on the class website -- USE THEM!! Guides both provide background information and ask you questions to consider and look for answers to as you read.  Do so, and you will be adequately prepared for reading quizzes.

Suggested Preparation Method:  Familiarize yourself with the study questions BEFORE you begin to read and refer to them frequently AS you read, jotting down notes as you go along. Upon completing your readings, you are advised to reread the questions and write up a summary of your ideas. This summary will NOT be collected or graded, but will be help you prepare for quizzes, papers and exams -- and class discussion!

Readings are to be completed BEFORE coming to class on the date assigned. Introductions and background handouts should be read first; they are the context within which primary readings will be most meaningful. The Introductions to the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries in the Norton Anthology (pp. 469-98, 1209-32) provide an overview of historical developments; see also pp. xxxviii-xlii from "The Persistence of English" on the Emergence of the English Language and on Dictionaries and Rules, as well as the headnotes to individual authors and works.  Also useful are parts of three appendices: the British monarchs from the House of Tudor through the House of Stuart (Restored) (p. A40); "Religions in England" (pp. A42-A43); and "Poetic Forms and Literary Terminology" (pp. A44-A60). Other background information is provided on handouts and study guides. Please note that this background material is an integral part of the course and will be covered on reading quizzes and exams. When reading primary texts, refer conscientiously to the critical apparatus (footnotes, glossary, etc.).

Be prepared to DISCUSS readings in class. Note that length and difficulty of assignments vary, so look ahead in the reading list when you are planning your time. You are responsible for ALL the assigned readings, whether fully discussed in class or not, and for material covered in handouts, lectures and discussions.

Attendance Requirement:

EACH ABSENCE WILL AFFECT PARTICIPATION PORTION OF FINAL GRADE, reducing it from a base of 4.0.  If you have a valid reason for missing class (illness, family crisis, other unavoidable conflict), TELL ME IN WRITING.  A written explanation, signed by you, is required for an absence to count as excused; be sure to include your full name, the class number, date(s) missed and the reason(s) for the absence(s).  (A telephone or e-mail message is appreciated as a courtesy, but it is NOT sufficient for an absence to count as excused).  Any absence for which you do not provide a signed, written explanation will be recorded as unexcused.  Please note: work conflicts and job interviews are NOT valid reasons for missing class; you are responsible for keeping work commitments from conflicting with academic ones.  Exception:  if you are a graduating senior and must travel out of town for a final interview, ONE such absence will count as excused.  Do not schedule local interviews or other appointments during class.

Calculation:  "Excused" absences (generally, only for medical reasons, a family or other emergency, or circumstances beyond your contro-- NOT for job conflicts) are weighed less heavily than "unexcused" absences.  For a class that meets twice weekly, the first "excused" absence lowers the attendance component of the course grade by .2 (4.0 to 3.8); the second "excused" absence lowers it by .3 (3.8 to 3.5); thereafter, "excused" absences are calculated like "unexcused" absences.  The first "unexcused" absence lowers the attendance component of the final grade by .5 (from 4.0 to 3.5); the second by .8 (from 3.5 to 2.7); unexcused absences in excess of 2 lower attendance component of your final grade by a full increment (2.7 to 1.7 etc.)

Graded Work:

-- Class will begin with an unannounced READING QUIZ approximately once a week. Come prepared for a quiz EVERY DAY. Expect factual questions (author names and biographical information including social class, education, and religious/political affiliation; titles, dates, genres and forms of works; etc.) based on introductions and information provided in study guides or handouts.  There will also be IDs (key passages, characters, motifs) from the assigned readings. Study guides are designed to draw your attention to important points and passages in the readings; get in the habit of USING them and you should be adequately prepared for quizzes. No make-ups; if you miss a quiz, you will get a copy to use as a study guide. No extra time will be given to late-comers -- so come to class promptly!

-- 2 short analytic PAPERS (3-4 pp), due the second class meeting of week 5 (Wednesday, 5/1) and the last class meeting (Wednesday, 6/5).  Topics MUST be chosen from a list of suggestions UNLESS PREAPPROVED after conference with me.

--EXAMS:  a two-part Midterm (closed book, in class) on Monday, May 6 (first opportunity for GWR certification).  A three-hour Final Exam (second opportunity for GWR certification) is scheduled for Friday 6/14, 4:10-7:00 PM (alas!). Half of the exam points will be based on essay questions, half on objective questions.  Final will be cumulative, but with emphasis on work since Midterm. YOU MUST TAKE FINAL EXAM AT THE SCHEDULED TIME; KEEP THIS DATE IN MIND AS YOU MAKE YOUR TRAVEL PLANS!

-- Extra Credit possible for a MONOLOGUE or GROUP PERFORMANCE from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night on the second class meeting devoted to that play.  Additional points for creativity, costumes, props and MEMORIZATION!!!

25 %  In-class work: participation (based on attendance); quizzes. (Weighted equally.)
25 %  Written Assignments
50 %  Exams (cumulative total; 25% for essays and 25% for objective questions).

Contents of this and all linked pages Copyright Debora B. Schwartz, 1997-2002