Summer 2017 Field Course in Renaissance Literature: Huntington Library and Simon Fraser University

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ENGL 831, Studies in Renaissance Literature (3 credits)

Instructors: Dr. John Craig & Dr. Tiffany Werth
Emails: &

Renaissance Reformations: religion, print, and the natural world


Image: Creation by Lucas Cranach the Elder. From the Original Luther Bible, 1534.

The invention of the printing press and the translation of the Bible into English changed how people understood and interacted with the world around them. As religious doctrine splintered into competing truth claims, observation of the natural world, what Brian Ogilvie calls a “culture of describing,” gained momentum. The term “nature” and the human relationship to the non/human realms of animal, vegetable, and mineral as well as that of the supernatural realm (gods, demons, angels, saints) came under scrutiny. This course explores how the three forces of an emergent technology (print), church reform, and the “new philosophy” would redefine the early modern human engagement with his/her environment. Viewing the Renaissance as a key moment in the long history of environmental narratives, the course aims to consider how seemingly recent concerns about the anthropocene may have roots reaching back to the world of Renaissance literature.

Situated within the ongoing SFU / UBC Oecologies’ research collective (, this course will introduce students to early modern British literature at a graduate level and to archival research in early print and manuscript materials at the Huntington Library, as well as encourage students to engage with the provocative ways in which premodern culture imagined its interpellation with the creaturely and non/human world.

This course has two segments:

Introduction to Huntington Library Archives (field module held at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA): 21 – 28 May

Simon Fraser University summer session 26 June  – 7 August 2017

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