10 7 / 2014

Check out this cool transdisciplinary conference happening at Northwestern in a couple weeks!

Check out this cool transdisciplinary conference happening at Northwestern in a couple weeks!

25 4 / 2014

The Revenger’s Tragedy: Tonight and Tomorrow!

Come join The What You Will Shakespeare Company in their last show of the semester, The Revenger’s Tragedy!

Where: University Place Christian Church 
When: Friday and Saturday, April 25th and 26th at 8 pm; doors open at 7:30
What: Tickets are $7 at the door. 
Join an assassin fueled by obsession, a hedonistic plotter, a maiden of unparalleled celibacy, and a host of unforgettable characters as they scheme incestuous trysts and remorseless homicides through a tale that takes twists and turns through wit, slapstick, and tragedy in equal amounts!
See you then!

23 4 / 2014

Our graduate colleagues over in the Medieval Studies program are holding what looks to be an excellent symposium on the Junius Manuscript for Cinco de Mayo! Check out the day of panels in the Foreign Language Building on the UIUC campus.

Our graduate colleagues over in the Medieval Studies program are holding what looks to be an excellent symposium on the Junius Manuscript for Cinco de Mayo! Check out the day of panels in the Foreign Language Building on the UIUC campus.

15 4 / 2014

Several faculty and graduate student members of EMW will be sharing work in two weeks at Comic Returns: A Graduate Symposium on Satire and Parody in modern Britain on the UIUC campus. Come support these folks and our sister student-run workshop, the British Modernities Group (BMG) April 25-26th. For more information, check out their blog: modernities.wordpress.com.

Several faculty and graduate student members of EMW will be sharing work in two weeks at Comic Returns: A Graduate Symposium on Satire and Parody in modern Britain on the UIUC campus. Come support these folks and our sister student-run workshop, the British Modernities Group (BMG) April 25-26th. For more information, check out their blog: modernities.wordpress.com.

15 4 / 2014

Fall 2014 Graduate Course Offerings in Early Modernity

Graduate registration opened yesterday, and if you are interested in the Renaissance and early modernity, there are a number of great options:

ENGL 524 | Topics in 17th C. Literature: Modernisms and Early ModernismsBrecht on Marlowe, Eliot on Middleton, Artaud on Ford

Who: Andrea Stevens

When: W 3:00 - 4:50PM

What: This course will consider modernist engagement with early modern tragedy, paying especial attention to the shaping influence of early modern dramaturgy on Piscator and Brecht’s concept of “epic theatre,” Brecht’s formulation of the “estrangement” effect, and Artaud’s advocation for a “Theatre of Cruelty.” Expect to read a range of theoretical writings and secondary criticism; beyond various artistic manifestos, primary sources will include Marlowe’s Edward II; Ford’s Tis Pity She’s a Whore; Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi; Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy; Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus; Brecht’s The Life of Edward II of England and Duchess of Malfi; Artaud’s Jet of Blood

ENGL 511 | Chaucer: Twenty-First Century Chaucer

Who: Martin Camargo

When: W 1:00 - 2:50PM

What: The focus of this seminar will not be a particular theme, approach, or set of Chaucerian texts but rather the scholarship on Chaucer published since 2000 (with allowance for continuing trends that first emerged during the 1990s). We will first orient ourselves by reading and discussing several published overviews of the field. Due to the amount of publication on Chaucer, such overviews have come to constitute an important scholarly genre in their own right. Using criteria derived from this metascholarship, in combination with the individual’s own critical and theoretical predilections, each member of the seminar will identify a coherent body of Chaucer scholarship to survey in greater detail and present to the seminar. The presenter will assign a limited number of readings that must include at least one text by Chaucer. (The featured text by Chaucer for the initial, overview portion of the seminar will beThe Nun’s Priest’s Tale.) The other major work for the seminar will be a research paper (20-25 pages) on a Chaucerian topic of the student’s choice. In form, this paper should resemble an original article suitable for publication in a scholarly journal. There is no requirement that the paper belong to the specific subfield of scholarship previously surveyed by its author.

ENGL 461 | Topics in Drama: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Who: Andrea Stevens

When: MWF 2:00 - 2:50PM

What: “He was not of an age, but for all time.” We all know the role Shakespeare continues to occupy within the Western canon; this class, however, takes a close look at Shakespeare-the-theater-professional as opposed to Shakespeare-the-Bard. Shakespeare’s fellow actors, the physical spaces of the Globe and the Blackfriars theaters, and any number of material factors necessarily shaped the plays he wrote. So too did Shakespeare influence, and was influenced by, the many talented writers who also supplied plays to the various theater companies of early modern London. Shakespeare clearly modeled Hamlet on Thomas Kyd’s early blockbuster The Spanish Tragedy, for example, and Thomas Middleton in turn drew upon both of these plays when he wrote The Revenger’s Tragedy. At other times, the relationships amongst the plays we read might appear to be more allusive than direct—did John Ford haveRomeo and Juliet in mind when he wrote a very different tale of forbidden love, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore? Which play about jealous tyrants and the women they love came first—Middleton’s The Second Maiden’s Tragedy or Shakespeare’s late romance The Winter’s Tale?

We will cover the following groupings or pairs of plays: The Spanish Tragedy (1587),Hamlet (1601), and The Revenger’s Tragedy (1606); Romeo and Juliet (1596) and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1632); and The Second Maiden’s Tragedy (1611) and The Winter’s Tale(1611). We will conclude the course by reading William Heminge’s shocking, compulsively allusive, and perhaps unwittingly hilarious The Fatal Contract (1639), a play dismissed as “the most obvious and detailed example of plagiarism of Hamlet in the seventeenth century” but more usefully understood as illustrating the imitative mode of early modern dramatic authorship. With the sole exception of The Winter’s Tale, our primary focus on tragedy—in particular, on revenge tragedy—will allow us to consider a range of important questions about genre, authorship, gender, the performance of violence, and the transformation of key theatrical conventions from the early days of the popular theater to the last years before the theaters go dark during the English civil wars.

The class will be conducted as a seminar-discussion. Evaluation will be based on participation, including a willingness to read lines out loud and block scenes in class; one group performance project; one midterm; and two to three short papers. It is recommended—but not necessary—that you take this class already having some familiarity with Shakespeare, or drama, or Renaissance literature and culture. Graduate students can enroll for graduate credit with the permission of the instructor.

ENGL 423 | Milton

Who: Catherine Gray

When: TR 2:00 - 3:15PM

What: This course introduces you to one of the greatest British writers—John Milton.  Milton was a blind seer, a regicidal prose-writer, and an inspired poet.  He also wrote arguably the most ambitious English epic, one that aimed to explain the origins of life itself: Paradise Lost.  This class will explore Milton’s prodigious and ostentatiously learned output in the context of his own life and the historical turmoil of the mid-seventeenth century that transformed it. We will focus on the complex issues of religion, gender, and politics he engages, looking at his often contradictory responses to the ideas, literature, and men and women of his time. We will also trace his carefully crafted public image, thinking about Milton’s view of the role of poetry and polemic within a revolutionary historical context.

ENGL 418 | Shakespeare

Who: Lori Humphrey Newcomb

When: TR 2:00 - 3:15PM

What: This course explores seven Shakespearean plays from a cross-section of dramatic genres.  We’ll look especially at the features that made these plays popular in their day:  their open staging, their playful language, their laying bare of the period’s familial, national, gender, and racial tensions.  But we’ll also find that the cultural significance of ‘Shakespeare’ accumulated through the plays’ later lives, thanks to their continuous, often resistant, reinventions by performers, literary critics, and adapters world-wide.  That constant reinvention demands that we, too, employ multiple interpretive practices to continue opening up the plays: close reading; informal staging; film analysis; feminist, historicist, postcolonial, and queer studies critical approaches.  Be ready for proactive discussion, performance experiments, and rigorous written work, including informal journals, a response to at least one on-campus Shakespeare production, two focused short papers, a longer paper using guided research (7-9 pp.), and a final exam.

TEXTS: (Required) Greenblatt et al, eds., The Norton Shakespeare: Essential Plays (2nd edition, ISBN 978-0-393-93313-0); McDonald, ed., Bedford Companion to Shakespeare(2nd edition, ISBN 978-0312248802); one contextual edition of a play TBA.

ENGL 412 | Medieval British Literatures: Nature and the Non-Human in Medieval England

Who: Robert W. Barrett

When: MWF 1:00 - 1:50PM

What: The natural landscapes of medieval English literature are filled with human and non-human agents: knights errant, intersex deer, half-giants, city mice, snake ladies, talking crosses, and so on. In this course, we’ll explore the interactions between these diverse beings, paying particular attention to their violations of the so-called line between human and non-human. Nature itself, frequently personified as a woman, will be an object of study, as will the ecologies our characters traverse and modify in the course of their adventures. Among the texts we’ll read in Modern English translation are the Exeter Book riddles of Anglo-Saxon England (in which talking objects recount their histories and ask you to guess their true identities), the Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (in which Sir Gawain finds himself the object of an all-too deadly hunt), the exotic Travels of Sir John Mandeville(in which diamonds have sex and give birth to baby diamonds), Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls (in which the goddess Nature serves as relationship counselor for a quartet of eagles), and The Owl and the Nightingale (in which the two birds debate their relative superiority).

ENGL 412 | Introduction to Old English

Who: Charles Wright

When: TR 12:30 - 1:45PM

What: In this course you will learn to read Old English prose and poetry in the original language, which was spoken by the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of England from the sixth through eleventh centuries.  This was the native language of Caedmon, who wrote the earliest surviving English poem (“Cædmon’s Hymn”); of King Alfred, who prevented the Vikings from conquering England, and who then undertook a revival of learning by translating into English “those books which it is most necessary for all to know”; of the anonymous author ofBeowulf, who memorialized a Germanic hero’s battles with a man-eating monster, his vengeful mother (the monster’s, that is), and a dragon; and of abbot Ælfric and archbishop Wulfstan, who preached in English for those who could not understand Latin, the official language of the medieval church.

We will begin with some easy prose readings (the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis, and a school dialogue about Anglo-Saxon “career choices”), and as you gradually master the basics of Old English grammar we will work our way up to more challenging narrative prose such as Bede’s story of Cædmon’s miraculous transformation from cowherd to poet; King Alfred’s government “white paper” on education reform; and Ælfric’s story of the martyrdom of King Edmund, slain by Vikings invaders.  Then in the second half of the semester we will read some of the finest shorter Old English poems, including The Wanderer and The Seafarer, two elegiac poems of exile; The Battle of Maldon, recounting the heroic defeat of an English army by the Vikings; The Dream of the Rood, a mystical vision of the Crucifixion, as told by the Cross; and The Wife’s Lament, about a woman abandoned by her former lover.


For more information about these and other courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champiagn, check out the English department website (http://www.english.illinois.edu/graduate/courses) and the UIUC course catalog (https://my.illinois.edu).