Module Identifier EN37120  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Claire E Jowitt  
Semester Semester 2  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   20 Hours Seminar. (10 x 2 hour seminar workshops)  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 2 x 2,500 word continuously assessed essays 

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should typically be able to:
- demonstrate a broad awareness of the range and variety of literary representations of the New World in the early modern period

- assess the relationship between fictional representations of the New World and the historical conditions of its conquest, exploration and settlement

- articulate this knowledge and understanding in the form of a reasoned critical analysis of particular texts

- explain and engage with relevant aspects of recent critical and/or theoretical debates about the texts studied

Brief description

This module introduces students to the kinds of descriptions of the New World in circulation in the first two hundred years after 'discovery'. From Columbus' first footfall in 1492 (when he believed he had merely discovered a new route to the Old World) until the mid-seventeenth century (when European trade with and settlements in the New World were well-established), we explore the varied and contradictory representations of the land that came to be called 'America'.

We study conquistadors' accounts of the conquest of America where, for example, the land is represented as a virgin to be penetrated and the indigenous inhabitants are described as animals or slaves to be put to work or killed. We look at the ways American dreams turned to nightmares by focusing on the European debate about human rights because of New World atrocities. We then turn to look at the uses English explorers made of the so-called 'Black Legend' concerning Spanish treatment of indigenous Americans in order to further their own territorial ambitions. We look at the ways English colonists, like the Spanish before them, represented their relationship with 'America' sexually as they searched for the gold of the fabled Eldorado. We also explore other fantasies that English writers used to represent America. A central concern of this module is the relationship between 'real' and 'imagined' versions of American life in this period.   


- to introduce students to some of the earliest writing about America;
- to introduce students to the variety and range of New World writing;
- to familiarise students with the range of genres used to represent America;
- to familiarise students with American colonial history;
- to explore the interaction between 'literary' and 'historical' versions of colonial America;
- to encourage students to read early American texts historically.


Seminar Programme:

I: Real or Imagined Worlds? First Descriptions of the New World
1. First Encounters: Christopher Columbus, The Four Voyages, ed. J. M. Cohen (Penguin)
2. First Fictions: Thomas More, Utopia, ed. Susan Bruce, Three Early Modern Utopias (Oxford)

II: A Dream Gone Sour: The Colonisation of America and The Black Legend
3. Conquistadors and Colonisation: Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain, ed. J. M. Cohen (Penguin)
4. New World Nightmares: Cruelty and Genocide in Early America, Bartolome de Las Casas, The Devastation of the Indies, ed. B.M. Donovan (John Hopkins Univ. Press)
5. Film: Aguirre, Wrath of God (dir. Werner Herzog 1973)

III: A British Example? Colonial Fantasies and the British Empire
6. Island Fantasies I. The Tempest, (any edition)
7. Island Fantasies II. John Fletcher, The Island Princess (xerox)
8. Island Fantasies III. John Fletcher, The Sea Voyage (xerox)

IV: New World Fantasy
9. A Brave New World? Science and Society: Francis Bacon, New Atlantis, ed. Susan Bruce, Three Early Modern Utopias.
10. Sexual Fantasy in the New World: Henry Neville, The Isle of Pines, ed. Susan Bruce, Three Early Modern Utopias.

Select Bibliography:
J. H. Eliot, The Old World and the New 1492-1650 (CUP 1970)
John Bakeless, America as seen by its first Explorers (Dover 1961)
Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World (Yale 1993)
Andrew Hadfield, Literature ,Travel and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance 1545-1625 (Oxford 1998)
Claire Jowitt, Voyage Drama and Gender Politics 1589-1642 (MUP 2002)
Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Clarendon 1991)
Tzvetan Todorov, The Conquest of America (Harper & Row 1984)
Mary Fuller, Voyages in Print: English Travel to America, 1576-1624 (Cambridge UP 1995)
Gesa Mackenthum, Metaphors of Dispossession: American Beginnings and the Translation of Empire 1492-1637 (Univ. of Oklahoma Press 1997)
Jeffrey Knapp, An Empire Nowhere: England, America and Literature from Utopia to the Tempest (Univ. of California Press 1992)
Walter S. H. Lim, The Arts of Empire: The Poetics of Colonialism from Ralegh to Milton (Univ. of Delaware Press 1998)
Wayne Franklin, Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers: The Diligent Writers of Early America (Univ. of Chicago Press 1979)
Bronwen Price, ed., Francis Bacon: New Interdisciplinary Essays, (MUP forthcoming 2001)
W. S. Maltby, The Black Legend in England: The Development of Anti-Spanish Sentiment, 1558-1660 (Duke Univ. Press 1971).


This module is at CQFW Level 6