Killing Kings and Popish Plots: Literature in Revolutionary England
9 units (3-0-6)
On January 30, 1649, the king of England, Charles I, was executed in front of his royal palace following nearly a decade of civil war. The killing of the king was the most traumatic of a series of political crises in England, from the divorce of Henry VIII to the Glorious Revolution, from fabricated 'popish' plots to conflicts over succession, from wars of religion to the emergence of political parties. In this course, we will study England's response to these moments of political trauma, asking questions and developing tools that might also equip us as we seek to understand and respond to similar crises in our own age. How did the death of a king change political structures and ideas about revolution, freedom, and toleration? What role did acts of public mourning and forgiveness play in healing the nation? How were these traumatic events imagined, remembered, and appropriated in literary texts, diaries, sermons, paintings, and monuments? As we study this age of revolution, we will read some of the most important works of English literature by writers such as Shakespeare and Spenser, Milton and Marvell, Hutchinson and Behn.
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