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ENGLISH 3RL6A Renaissance Lit and Culture

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Mary Silcox

Email: silcox@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 330

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27314

Office Hours: OFFICE: CNH 330, PHONE: 905 525-9140 ex 27314, EMAIL: silcox@mcmaster.ca, OFFICE HOURS: Monday 10:30-12:00, Thursday 10:30-12:00, or by appointment

Course Objectives:


This survey of British literature begins early in the 16th century and carries through to the 3rd quarter of the 17th century, one of the most transformative and culturally vibrant periods in western history. New ideas about religion, science, the state, society, the larger world, individual identity, love, and literature were sweeping England. The writings of the time reflect, document, and inspire these new ways of thinking and being that eventually lead to us and our world. The first half of the course will focus mainly on works from Queen Elizabeth’s reign, when the rule of a female monarch brought gender issues to the fore, a nascent nationalism was emerging, and English society was growing ever more complex. The second half of the course continues from the turn of the century, to the chaos of the civil wars of the mid-century, to the reflections of Milton following the return of the monarchy.

Course Objectives:

By the end of this course students should be able to read and think critically, discuss and take positions on various aspects and implications of the issues under consideration, and write clearly.


Monday 9:30-10:20, Tuesday 10:30-11:20, Thursday 9:30-10:20

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The Broadview Anthology of British Literature: Volume 2, The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century, Joseph Black et al, eds. Second edition.

In the first week of classes students should make sure they have access to Avenue to Learn for this class. Extra information, descriptions of assignments, and student discussion will be available on it. If you find you are not on the list, please contact me as soon as possible so I can correct it.

Method of Assessment:

Participation in Regular Class Discussion                                10%

Term 1 Take-home Test, handed out Oct. 19, due Oct. 26         5%

Term 1 Essay (2000 words) due Dec. 1                                    15%

December Exam on Term 1 Texts                                            20%

Term 2 Take-home Test, handed out Feb. 1, due Feb. 8        10%

Term 2 Essay (2500 words) due Mar. 24                                   20%

April Exam on Term 2 Texts                                                       20%


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Take-home tests are due on the due date listed above. Tests handed in after that date will be penalized 2% per day, and after 1 week no test will be accepted.

Essays are due in class on the due date.  I will accept essays in person only and without penalty for one week following that date.  After that week is up I will not accept any essay.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


(These dates are somewhat flexible; not all works will be studied in equal detail)

September 8 - University classes begin

Sept. 10, 14 - Introduction: Read Broadview pp. XXXVII to LXXXVIII and see material posted on Avenue to Learn.


Sept. 15, 17, 21 - Thomas More, Utopia (pp. 12-68)

Sept. 22 - Thomas Elyot, The Governor (posted on Avenue to Learn. Please print and bring to class.)

Sept. 24 - Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, An Oration on the Dignity of Man (posted on Avenue to Learn. Please print and bring to class.)


Sept. 28, 29 - Selections pp. 73-106


Oct. 1, 5, 6 - Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesy (pp. 257-8 & 268-97)


Oct. 8 - Baldasare Castiglione, The Courtier (posted on Avenue to Learn. Please print and bring to class.)

October 12-16 – Thanksgiving & Reading Week, no classes

Oct. 19, 20 - Poetry and Sonnet Introduction


Oct. 22, 26 - Thomas Wyatt, pp. 108-9 #10, #31, #80; pp. 122-3 #189

Oct. 27, 29 - Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella, #1, 2, 7, 31, 41 (p. 259 ff.)

Nov. 2, 3 - Edmund Spenser, Amoretti, #1, 54, 64, 68, 75 (pp. 138-9, 247ff.)

Nov. 5, 9 - Edmund Spenser, Epithalamion (pp. 251-56)

Nov. 10, 12, 16 - William Shakespeare, Sonnets, #18, 20, 73, 116, 129, 130, 144 (pp. 450-55, 456ff.)

Nov. 17, 19 - Christopher Marlowe, Hero and Leander (pp. 404-15)


Nov. 23, 24 - Elizabeth I "To the Troops at Tilbury," "The Golden Speech" (pp. 301-2, 305-8)

Nov. 26, 30 - Isabella Whitney, "Will and Testament" (pp. 556, 563-8)


Dec. 1, 3, 7, 8 - The Faerie Queene, Book 1, cantos 1-4 (pp. 139-68)

December 8 - Classes end


Jan. 5 - University classes begin


Jan. 5, 7 - Francis Bacon, Essays: Of Truth, Of Marriage and Single Life, Of Travel, Of Plantations (pp. 382-9)

Jan. 11, 12, 14 - Ben Jonson, On Something That Walks Somewhere; On My First Daughter; On My First Son; Inviting a Friend to Supper; To Penshurst (pp. 582-8)


Jan. 18, 19, 21, 25, 26, 28 - John Donne, The Good-Morrow; The Flea; A Valediction: forbidding Mourning; Elegy XIX; Satire III; Holy Sonnets 5, 10, & 14; Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward (pp. 662-87)

Feb. 1, 2 - Aemilia Lanyer, To the Virtuous Reader; Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum; The Description of Cooke-ham (pp. 336-42)


Feb. 4, 8, 9, 11, 22 - George Herbert, The Altar; Redemption; Easter Wings; Jordan (I); Affliction (I); Church Monuments; Love (III) (pp. 759-69)

Feb. 23, 25 - Robert Herrick, The Argument of his Book; Delight in Disorder; Corinna's Going a Maying; To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time; The Hock-cart (pp. 753-8)


Feb 29, Mar. 1 - Richard Lovelace, To Lucasta, Going to the Wars; To Althea from Prison; The Grasshopper (p. 794 & posted on Avenue to Learn. Please print and bring to class.)

Mar. 3, 7 - Henry Vaughan, Regeneration; The World (pp. 798-800)

Mar. 8, 10, 14, 15, 17 - Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress; An Horatian Ode; The Nymph Complaining for the Death of Her Fawn; A Dialogue between the Soul and Body; The Mower against Gardens (pp. 770-82)


Mar. 21, 22 - Katherine Philips, A Married State; Upon the Double Murder of K. Charles I; On the 3 of September 1651; Friendship's Mystery (pp. 783-7)


Mar. 24, 28, 29, 31, Apr. 2, 5, 7 - John Milton, Paradise Lost (pp. 804-6, 825-904)

April 8 - Classes end


Other Course Information:

 Important Note 1: In the event of class cancellations, students will be notified on Avenue and the English Department Website.  It is your responsibility to check these sites regularly for any such announcements.

Link: http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~english/  (Department)

Link: http://avenue.mcmaster.ca/  (avenue to learn)

Important Note 2: In this course we will be using a web-based service (Turnitin.com) to reveal plagiarism. Students will be required to submit their work in hard copy to the instructor and electronically to Turnitin.com so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. Students who do not wish to submit their work to Turnitin.com must still submit an electronic and hard copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to Turnitin.com. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., Google search, etc.).

Link: www.turnitin.com, for more information: http://www.turnitin.com/static/privacy.html

*          Students will be requested to complete a online course evaluation at the end of the course.