2001-2002 Theme:
Early Modern Visual Culture

Explored this year are ways the visual in the early modern period contests or complements the printed word; figures nationality, class, and gender; negotiates public and private spaces; occupies the space of theatricality; and participates in the marketplace of texts. Also considered are ways modern visual media, such as film or the internet, engage early modern visual media, such as the stage or the broadsheet woodcut.

Six Center courses participate in the early modern visual culture theme. The Center courses seize opportunities to promote a dialogue between these classes as well as with complementary classes offered in Art History. A Fall colloquium on the visual features Professor Stephen Orgel (Department of English, Stanford University) and Professor Joseph Roach (Department of English, Yale University). The year’s course investigations conclude with a Spring undergraduate/graduate student conference headed by keynote speaker, Professor Alexander Nemerov (History of Art and American Studies, Yale University).

2001-2002 Events

Theme-Related Courses

Fall 2001

ENGL 197 | Drama as a Visual Art (Undergraduate)
The course, part of the year-long Visual Culture theme of the Early Modern Center, will consider drama as a visual art. The sixteenth-century saw a crisis in the status of the image unprecedented in Western Europe. The religious culture of Europe in the fifteenth and early decades of the sixteenth century was intensely visual, expressing itself in the visual art we associate with the Renaissance. But the Protestant Reformation attacked this art as idolatrous and unleashed a wave of iconoclasm across Northern Europe, including England. What were the consequences of this crisis for the drama of Elizabethan England? As a visual art, theater was also subject to attack. Acknowledging that theater is indeed a visual as well as a verbal art, we’ll study the ways in which the visual and theater were assailed, then read plays by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and others that respond to this crisis in the status of the visual.

ENGL 197 | Early Modern Visual Culture (Undergraduate)
This course would contribute to the EMC’s theme for next year. It would involve a study of the relation between the verbal and the visual through a survey of changing modes of self-representation in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature and art. Visual representations will include: formal portraits, emblems, ballad images, miniatures, architecture, perspective painting, and family portraits. Literary representations will include: Shakespeare’s Richard II, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, ballads, Jonson’s masques, sonnets, and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Some collaboration is expected with Ann Jensen Adams, in Art History, on the topic of formal portraits.

ENGL 231 | Early Modern Visual Culture (Graduate)
This will be a graduate version of the undergraduate course that will require more substantive reading of primary and critical texts.

Winter 2002

ENGL 197 | Visualizing Shakespeare’s Plays (Undergraduate)

Spring 2002

ENGL 165 | Early Modern Ballad Art, 1500-1800 (Undergraduate)
This course will study the evolution of the broadside ballad during a crucial phase of its history, when it was disseminated for the first time in massive numbers, due to the rise of cheap print, and became an especially occasional form. The course will emphasize the particular formal features of the ballad, which, for the lower orders, was quite literally “art,” pasted on the walls of their homes and alehouses. The course will culminate with each student converting an EEBO ballad into modern type, editing that ballad, and having it mounted on the EMC’s site.

ENGL 231 | Visualizing Shakespeare on Film and Stage (Graduate)
The goal of the course is to examine Shakespeare’s plays in relation both to early modern visual culture and to modern film versions. A usual week’s assignment will consist of one Shakespeare play, one film version, and one important theoretical essay. Theoretical pieces will for the most part be “classics” such as Benjamin’s “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” or Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Plays will probably include Richard III, Titus Andronicus, Love’s Labors Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest. There will be three options for taking the seminar: 1) research course, 2) reading course, 3) audit. Those taking the seminar as a research course will write a 15-20 page research paper on a topic related to the course material. Those taking the seminar as a reading course will write a term paper (8-10 pp.) and will also write a take-home final exam. All members of the seminar will present several brief reports during the term.

ENGL 235 | American Enlightenment in Print and Visual Culture (Graduate)


Introduction to Renaissance Studies
This site includes an extensive picture gallery to be used in conjunction with literary and historical readings for this Renaissance course. (Rebecca Bushnell, UPenn)

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