How can we account for taste, and what does taste account for? In the Christian tradition, our knowledge of good and evil comes (as John Milton put it) “from out of the rind of one apple tasted.” What other forms of knowledge does our talk about taste lay claim to, and what (and whom) does taste exclude? In this course, we will sample plays, poetry, and prose texts primarily from early modern England that are caught up in the aesthetic and social dramas of taste. Our primary assumption will be that metaphors of taste and consumption naturalize a set of discriminations pertaining to categories like class, gender, and race; and that by unpacking the cultural dynamics of taste and disgust, we can understand literary style’s vital connections to its social contexts. We will consider Renaissance authors¿ appeals to the language of taste to define themselves through and against the authority of classical antiquity, the competition of the cosmopolitan early modern city, the otherness of the New World, and the transcendence of the divine. Our readings will include authors such as Seneca, Petronius, Martial, Montaigne, Jonson, Shakespeare, Nashe, Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Cavendish, and Milton.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: one 7-page paper; one 12-page paper; short, informal writing assignments; participation in class discussions; one in-class presentation
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preference: English majors
Distributions: Division I;
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories A