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Renaissance Literature

Siobhan Keenan

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This concise introduction to the literature of an exciting and influential period opens with an overview of the historical and cultural context in which English Renaissance literature was produced, and a discussion of its contemporary and subsequent critical reception. The following chapters survey the major Renaissance genres of drama, poetry and prose. Each chapter provides illustrative case studies of canonical and non-canonical key texts by authors such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Nashe, and Lady Mary Wroth. A guide to further reading accompanies each chapter, complemented by a section of student resources at the end of the book. The final chapter summarises significant developments in English Renaissance literary culture, and discusses the future direction of Renaissance literary scholarship.

Key Features

  • Detailed readings of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Milton's 'Lycidas', Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Venus and Adonis and Hamlet, Marlowe's Tamburlaine, Jonson's The Alchemist, Lanyer's 'The Description of Cookham', Bacon's Essays, Donne's sermons, Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller and Wroth's The Countess of Montgomery's Urania
  • A broad overview of Renaissance literature and the context in which it was produced
  • An accessible introduction to Renaissance literary criticism, including past and present debates about the Renaissance 'canon'
  • A variety of study aids, including end-of-chapter summaries of key points, a glossary of literary and historical terms, a chronology, advice on essay writing, sample essay questions and plan

Contents

Series Preface
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
About this Book
Chronology' Introduction
The Historical Context
The Critical Context
Chapter 1 Drama
The Professional Stage
Private and Occasional Drama
Attitudes to Drama
Comedy
Tragedy
History
Romance & Tragicomedy
Court Masques
Chapter 2 Poetry
Pastoral Verse
The Epic
The Epyllion
The Sonnet Sequence
The Lyric
The Country-House Poem
Chapter 3 Prose
Non-Fiction
Fiction
The Essay
Sermons and Devotions
Romances
Conclusion
Student Resources
Essay Writing Advice
Sample Essay Questions and Plans
Glossary
Guide to Further Reading
Index

About the Author

Siobhan Keenan is a Senior Lecturer in English at De Montfort University, Leicester. She has published a number of essays on Renaissance theatre, and is the author of Travelling Players in Shakespeare's England (Palgrave, 2002), which was short-listed for the Theatre Society Book Prize 2002. She is currently editing an anonymous Caroline play for the Malone Society; and has research interests in Shakespeare, Renaissance literature, and early modern women's writing.

Reviews

Siobhan Keenan is to be commended for having achieved precisely the right balance between comprehensiveness, comprehension, and compression. This is a really useful guide to a varied and vibrant period, written in a clear style that never sacrifices complexity in its quest for clarity.
- Willy Maley, Journal of the Northern Renaissance

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