The Renaissance: Literature and the Age of Exploration
In this course we will study the rise of Renaissance literature against the backdrop of the travels
by Europeans outside the European world at the dawn of the modern era. We will read major
works by such authors as Shakespeare, More, Rabelais, Montaigne, and Cervantes next to
accounts of travel by such figures as Columbus, Vespucci, and Vasco da Gama, as well as
contemporary documents about the “encounter” by natives in South America and writers from
North Africa. Among the questions we will ask: How can you describe something that has
never been described? How can you tell a peaceful encounter from an ambush? Who controls
the sea? How is a literary text like a map?
Books on order:
Cervantes, Don Quixote (trans. Rutherford, Penguin)
More, Utopia (Yale)
Camoens, The Lusiads (Oxford World Classics)
Columbus, Journeys (Penguin)
Other texts will be provided in pdf form.