Renaissance Literature

What follows is a list of the primary texts upon which you will be tested. The purpose of the list is to reduce the amount of material on which you will be asked direct questions to a representative and practical size. It is not to limit the depth and breadth of your reading. Obviously, reading other primary texts, historical studies, and secondary criticism is one of the best ways of preparing to deal effectively with the texts and appreciation of the genres, themes, and techniques characteristic of the period.


  • William Shakespeare,
    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    Twelfth Night
    1 Henry IV
    Julius Caesar
    Macbeth Othello
    King Lear
    The Tempest
  • Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus
  • Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy
  • Ben Jonson, Volpone
    Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, Viscountess Falkland, The Tragedy of Mariam, The Fair Queen of Jewry
  • John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi


  • Sir Thomas More, Utopia
  • Sir Philip Sidney, The Defense of Poesy
  • Sir Philip Sidney, The Old Arcadia
  • Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
  • Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
  • Baldesar Castiglione, The Courtier, Books I and IV
  • from The King James Bible, “Genesis,” “Exodus,” “Matthew”


  • Sir Thomas Wyatt,
    “Whoso list to hunt”
    “They flee from me”
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey,
    “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought”
  • Edmund Spenser,
    The Faerie Queene, Book I and Introductory Epistle
  • Christopher Marlowe,
    “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”
  • Sir Walter Raleigh,
    “The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd”
  • Sir Philip Sidney,
    Sonnets 1, 31, 74
    “Leave Me, O Love”
  • Edmund Spenser,
    Sonnets 1, 34, 75
  • William Shakespeare,
    Sonnets 18, 30, 73, 116, 129, 130, 144
  • John Donne,
    “The Good Morrow”
    “Song: Go and catch a falling star”
    “The Canonization”
    “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”
    "Elegy 19. To His Mistress Going to Bed"
    Holy Sonnet 5, “I am a little world made cunningly”
    Holy Sonnet 10, "Death be not proud"
    Holy Sonnet 14, “Batter my heart, three-personed God”
  • Robert Herrick,
    “Corinna's Going A-Maying”
    “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time”
  • Ben Jonson,
    “On My First Son”
    “To Penshurst”
    “Song: To Celia”
    “To the Memory of My Beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us"
  • Andrew Marvell,
    “To His Coy Mistress”
    “The Definition of Love”
    “The Garden”
  • John Milton,
    Paradise Lost
    “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”
    “Methought I Saw My Late Espousèd Saint”
  • Amelia Lanyer,
    "The Description of Cooke-ham"
  • George Herbert,
    “The Altar"
    "The Collar”
    “The Pulley”
    “Love (3)”
  • Richard Lovelace,
    “To Althea, from Prison”
    “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”
  • Lady Mary Wroth,
    Pamphilia to Amphilanthus, Sonnets 1, 16, 40
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