Readings in Early Modern Literature and Culture, 1500-1660

L611 — Fall 2019

Linda Charnes
Days and Times
11:15a – 12:30p TR (4 CR.)
Course Description

TOPIC:  Borders and Boundaries in Shakespeare and Milton

Borders are artificial structures mapped onto geographical and physical terrain by military, social and political conquest.  Terrain becomes territory when a power exercises, proclaims and enforces sovereignty.  What are the mechanisms through which jurisdiction—and thereby laws—come to mark borders and boundaries?  Are they merely legal devices, or is there a link between geographical and physical bodies?  What about psychological, cultural, and linguistic boundaries? Or personal ones?  The bodies of persons, like that of land formations, are mapped by multiple forms of sovereignty-- legal and psychological, gendered, classed and ethnic. In this respect, borders and boundaries are simultaneously solid and provisional, and through their representation we imagine and a create poetics of inside and outside, of welcome and trespass, of sojourn and refuge.

In this course, we’ll investigate the roles of borders and boundaries, terrain and territory, commonlaw and jurisdiction.  Starting with the premise that the definition of persons is as artificial as the boundaries that limit or signify nation-states, we’ll see how Shakespeare’s plays anatomize and test our modern conceptions of places and persons.   We’ll also read Milton’s work, including Areopagitica and Paradise Lost, to ascertain how conceptions of republicanism offer new ideas of territorial personhood.  Selections will be assigned from affect theory, cognitive and performance studies, political psychology, critical legal studies, sociology, Actor Network Theory, and other approaches to conceptualizing borders, boundaries, and the liminal zones in between.

Students will write weekly discussion notes, and two position papers of roughly 10-12pp each. Attendance and participation will count for 20% of your course grade.

Interested in this course?

The full details of this course are available on the Office of the Registrar website.

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