2011-2012 Theme:
Early Modern Social Networks, 1500-1800

The word “network” is more likely to call to mind computer connection than the “glittering net-work” of a spider-web (E. Darwin, The Botanic Garden, 1781) or a “Mantle of blacke silke” (Book of Robes, 1600). What is the link between such “curious Piece[s] of network” (Addison, Spectator 275, 1712) and contemporary social networking? These older uses of network illuminate the development of early modern techniques of loose connection. By contrast with a chain-of-being model, networks are versatile, allowing for manifold modes of association. We will explore early modern networks of both human and nonhuman actors in areas such as knowledge production, religious practice, international trade, infrastructure development and others. We speculate that social networking, in the broad sense that we are using it, lies behind many of the transformations of the three centuries after 1500.

2011-2012 Events

Theme-Related Courses

Fall 2011

ENGL 169 | Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama (Undergraduate)
Restoration and 18th-c. Comedy: Fops, Punks, Rakes, and Wives

When London theatres reopened in 1660 after an 18-year Puritan suppression of the stage, there was great excitement about what was new – including actresses and high-tech playhouses. This course asks you to read, discuss, perform, and write about late 17th- and (a couple) 18th-c. comedies, with some attention also to contemporary political and social spectacles off-stage.

Spring 2012

ENGL 101 | English Literature from the Medieval Period to 1650 (Undergraduate)
In this course, we will become familiar with the poetry, prose, and drama of the English medieval and early modern periods, which occurred roughly between the years 500-1650CE. We will break this large period down into its four constituent phases of English literary history, which include Anglo Saxon, Anglo-Norman or high medieval, late medieval, and early modern literature, sampling some of the most well known works, authors, and genres from each.

Throughout the quarter, we will consider how these texts engage with their contemporary moments, paying particular attention to issues of sovereignty, the body politic, the individual, group experience, and nation building. We will even consider how these texts might help us better understand our own contemporary moment, as well.

Texts include Beowulf, the Lais of Marie de France, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls, Second Shepherd’s Play, Thomas More’s Utopia, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a selection of seventeenth-century poetry, and early modern ballads.

← 2012-2013 Theme | 2010-2011 Theme →