2023-2024 Catalog

ENGL 220 Literatures of the Scientific Revolution

In this course we will study the relationship between literature and science during the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth-century in England. Though today we usually consider science and literature to inhabit different spheres, in the era when “modern science” began there was no clear division between the two. We’ll explore the shared questions about the earth, human nature, the cosmos, and the divine that motivated new conceptions of scientific experiment and innovations in literary writing. We'll also examine how the institutionalization of experimental science, especially with the founding of the Royal Society, transformed English literature as well as England's orientation to Continental Europe and the "New World." Readings will be drawn from the work of scientists, fiction-writers, essayists, and poets, including William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Thomas Browne, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Anne Conway, Robert Hooke, Margaret Cavendish, John Milton, Thomas Hobbes, Lucy Hutchinson, and Isaac Newton.

Major Requirement Met: Group I


4 units


One First Year Seminar

Core Requirements Met

  • Pre-1800
  • Regional Focus