English 190

Research Seminar: Note new topic: Troy and Tragedy

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Fall 2016 Perry, R. D.

TTh 11-12:30 54 Barrows Pre-1800 Requirement
Middle English
Renaissance and Early Modern
Research Seminars

Book List

Chaucer, Geoffrey: Troilus and Criseyde; Lydgate, John: Troy Book: Selections; Shakespeare, William: Hamlet; Shakespeare, William: Richard II; Shakespeare, William: Troilus and Cressida; Virgil: The Aeneid

Other Readings and Media

Additional materials, available online


Note the new topic (and book list and instructor):

From the earliest moments of the western literary tradition, the story of the fall of Troy has been associated with the genre of tragedy. This course charts that association from Ancient Rome to Early Modern England. Along the way we will consider the changing nature of the genre of tragedy and its relationship to another genre, the epic. As we consider the changing notions of tragedy throughout history, we will explore in turn whether or not we understand history as anything other than a variety of tragedy. We will wonder, following Shakespeare's Richard II, whether tragedy is something more than sad stories about the death of kings. And ultimately, we will ask, along with Hamlet, what's Hecuba to us, or we to her, that we should weep for her?

We will begin with what is arguably the most tragic ancient retelling of the Troy story in VIrgil's epic, The Aeneid. From there, we will turn to Shakespeare's blending of tragedy and history in his play, Richard II, about the monarch who ruled while Chaucer wrote. We will then look at Chaucer's version of Troy, Troilus and Criseyde, in addition to the one by John Lydgate, his most prominent medieval successor. Finally, we will look at Shakespeare's version of Chaucer's poem, as well as his reflections on Troy in what may be the paradigmatic work of modern tragedy, Hamlet.

This section of English 190 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

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