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Sample Syllabus: Readings in 16th- and 17th-Century Literature: Nonfiction Prose

EEBO-TCP Based Sample Syllabus

Readings in 16th- and 17th-Century Literature: Nonfiction Prose

Description: Most of the writing that appeared between 1550 and 1660 was nonfiction prose. The hierarchy of value now generally applied to Renaissance literature–drama first, epic second, and lastly prose–reverses the usual reading preferences of the period. Before the novel, the reading public turned to sermons, conduct manuals, reports of voyages, natural history, essays, lives and Characters, political pamphlets, and works of philosophy and theology. We will sample a wide range of these late 16th- and 17th-century forms, along with diaries and other kinds of life-writing that usually didn’t reach print until much later.


    • Early Modern Tales of Orient, ed. Parker (Routledge, 1999)
    • Lay by Your Needles Ladies, ed. Trill et al. (Arnold, 1997)
    • Cavendish and Roper, Two Early Tudor Lives (1553-58; Yale, 1962)
    • R. Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584; Dover, 1989)
    • P. Sidney, Defense of Poetry (1581; 1595, EEBO)
    • F. Bacon, Essays (1597-1625; EEBO)
    • R. Hakluyt, Voyages and Discoveries (1589; EEBO)
    • E. Spenser, View of the State of Ireland (1633 ed.; Blackwell, 1997)
    • W. Harvey, Anatomical Exercises, ed. Keynes (Dover, 1995)
    • J. Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624; Oxford, 1987)
    • J. Milton, Political Writings, ed. Dzelzainis (Cambridge, 1991)
    • EEBO

We will read several texts included in Early English Books Online, which provides versions in Adobe Acrobatâ„¢ format of titles in the microfilm collection Early English Books (STC I, 1475-1640; STC II, 1641-1700).

Standard editions will be on reserve at Main Library, and texts available for purchase at the University Bookstore, IMU.

    • Requirements:
    • Two papers, in-class presentation and write-up.

English literature courses on Isis.