English | Renaissance Poetry & Prose
L730 | 28837 | Linton

L730/L621  28837/28836  LINTON (#2)
Renaissance Poetry & Prose

1:00p – 4:00p T


How do animals figure in the early modern social imaginary, if for
some association with a cat can make one melancholy and the hooting
of an owl presages a human death, while for others animal have no
soul and cannot suffer, and the beast in the man must be castigated?
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mark a historical juncture
where traditional classical and Christian ideas about animals
coexisted and intersected with those emerging from contemporary
discourses of sovereignty and governmental rationality, of
exploration and colonization, of modern science and ecology. Not
surprisingly, such confluence of ideas animates diverse literary
writings from allegory, fable, and devotional poetry to satire and
utopian/dystopian fiction, not to mention non-literary writings,
including bestiaries, travel narratives, scientific writings, and
treatises on health, husbandry, the passions, and so on. In reading
a range of texts, this course will explore the following questions:
What attitudes did early modern England and Europe have towards
animals? How does the animal figure in the period’s invention of the
human? What are the implications for citizens when the animal can be
alienated from the human in the subject, when “bare life” (zoe) can
be alienated from the life of civic participation (bio)? What, by
extension, are the implications for creaturely existence: is the
creature therefore totally abject, or might it have agency still,
and if so, how? How does attention to animals reorient early modern
thinking (and our own critical thinking) about ecology and “green
desire”? In thinking animal, to what extent can early moderns (or
can we, for that matter) go beyond their own (our own)
anthropocentricism and anthropomorphism?

Literary readings may include: Spenser’s animal tales and selections
from The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare’s Falstaff and King Lear,
Wroth’s Urania (selection), Donne’s Metempsychosis, Cavendish’s
Blazing World and other writings, selected poetry of Herbert,
Milton, and Marvell. Theoretical and critical readings may include
selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Oppian, Pliny, Montaigne,
Bruno, Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin,
Derrida, Agamben, Deleuze and Guattari, Haraway, Santner, Serres,
Erica Fudge, Julia Reinhard Lupton, and others.

Responsibilities for all participants include “adopting” a theorist
by leading discussion on the day assigned, and collaborating with
another person in presenting a critical forum on an issue. In
addition, L621 participants will write a 2-3 page exploratory essay
and a conference-length research paper (about 10 pages), and L730
participants will write a 2-3 page exploratory paper and an article-
length research paper (about 25 pages).