ENGL621 - Readings In Renaissance English Literature: Public And Private: Literature And Gendered Space

This course will explore just how political and public the “private” sphere can be. Through the examination of the concepts of “public” and “private” we will try to erode critical/cultural attachment to ideas of gendered space. As religion increasingly became “the common discourse and Table-talke” of the unordained and undereducated in ale-houses, taverns, and private homes, women increasingly became associated with religious and political radicalism. But political advocacy emanating from private or domestic space began well before the charged climate prior to the English revolution. In a manuscript culture, in fact, a good deal of religious, political, and cultural reformation can be assumed to have taken place within a private sphere. We will consider religio-political discourse in the sixteenth century through reading The articles wherefore John Frith died and The Examination(s) of Anne Askew. But we will also investigate literary/cultural interventions performed in private space through reading texts such as Philip Sidney’s A Defence of Poetry and The Sidney-Pembroke Psalter. And we will explore cultural politics in manuscript circulation through the sonnets of Shakespeare, the manuscript poetry of Donne, and the prison poems of Wyatt, Surrey, and Ralegh.