COMPARATIVE LITERTURE 361 A
Early Modern Subjects
The Renaissance marks a radical re-orientation in how human beings would think about their place in the universe. The new voices that emerge in this period, working in all manner of disciplines, assert a more robust role for individual self-determination in social and political life as well as an unprecedented confidence in humanity’s capacity to decipher the mysteries of the natural world. The result is a proliferation of new ideas, some subversive, some deeply attached to inherited power structures, but all preparing the way for our modern sense of who we are as human beings.
In ten weeks, we can only scratch the surface of this very large topic, and I have chosen a sampling of texts that is designed to provide some sense of the varied ways in which the question of subjectivity is re-configured throughout the early modern period.
Cervantes, Exemplary Stories (selections)
Erasmus, Praise of Folly
Galileo, Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo (selections)
Machiavelli, The Prince
Montaigne, Essays (selections)
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night