Renaissance Literature

There’s a reason that English Renaissance literature is identified as a “Golden Age.” In this period—covering roughly 1500 to 1660—literary genres and modes flourished, new forms of poetry were invented or revived from classical exemplars, and the theater came to life as an important form of literary expression and popular entertainment. Emergent religious, social, political, scientific and economic relations, along with a reexamination of ancient and medieval literary forms, helped produce a large and eclectic body of literature.

Ohio State’s faculty in Renaissance literature offers a wide range of expertise—from Spenser and Shakespeare to Donne and Jonson to Marvell and Milton. Specialties also include law and legal culture, early modern medicine and science, Caroline drama, the Bible and religion, the literature of London, book history, performance practice and sexuality/gender studies. 

Faculty and graduate students studying Renaissance English literature at Ohio State benefit from a variety of resources including membership in the Folger Shakespeare Library Consortium, the vibrant interdisciplinary culture of Ohio State's Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, an active early English theatre group and the extensive holdings of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection in Ohio State's Thompson Library. 


Active Faculty

Emeritus Faculty


Course Offerings

Undergraduate courses

  • English 2220: Introduction to Shakespeare (for non-majors)
  • English 2220H: Honors Introduction to Shakespeare (for non-majors)
  • English 3378: Shakespeare and Film
  • English 4520.01: Shakespeare
  • English 4520.02: Studies in Shakespeare (topics vary each term)
    Recent topics have included: 
    Shakespeare and Others (Kyd, Marlowe, Jonson) (Wilson); Hamlet: History, Texts, and Afterlives [Highley]; The Tempest and its Afterlives [Hamlin]; Shakespeare’s Henriad: History, Performance, Print [Farmer]; The Merry Wives of Windsor in Criticism and Performance [Neville]; Richard II in Criticism and Performance [Neville]
  • ENG 4521: Renaissance Drama
    Recent topics have included: The Infamous Christopher Marlowe [Farmer]
  • ENG 4522: Renaissance Poetry
    Recent topics have included: The Poetry of Excess [Wilson]; The Faerie Queene [Neville]; Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Fall in Renaissance Literature [Farmer]
  • ENG 4523: Special Topics in Renaissance Literature and Culture
    Recent topics have included: Literature, Politics, and Religion in the Reign of Henry VIII [Highley]; Popularity and Popular Culture in Renaissance England [Farmer]; The Importance of Dinner in Ancient and Early Modern Literature [Hamlin]
  • ENG 4564.01: Studies in a Major Medieval or Renaissance Author
  • ENG 4590.02H: Honors Seminar in Renaissance Literature

Graduate/undergradaute courses

  • English 5720: Topics in Shakespeare
    Recent topics have included: Shakespeare in History: Theater, Print and Criticism [Farmer]
  • English 5721: Topics in Renaissance Drama
    Recent topics have included: The Intersectional Renaissance [Higginbotham]
  • English 5722: Topics in Renaissance Poetry
    Recent topics have included: Poetry and Prayer: The Religious Lyrics [Hamlin]
  • English 5723: Topics in Renaissance Literature
    Recent topics have included: Religion, Revolution and Retreat in Seventeenth-Century English Literature [Hamlin]

Graduate courses

  • English 7820: Topics in Shakespeare
    Recent topics have included: The Bible in Shakespeare [Hamlin]; English Multiple-Text Shakespeare Plays [Farmer]; Feminist Approaches to Shakespeare [Higginbotham]
  • English 7827: Topics in Renaissance Literature
    Recent topics have included: Milton [Wilson]; Theater and Neighborhood in Early Modern England [Highley]; Renaissance Pastoral: Literary Form and the Politics of Agrarian Labor [Wilson]; Genre and Mode in Renaissance Literature [Wilson]; Caroline Drama [Farmer]; The Medical Marketplace of Renaissance London [Neville] 

Renaissance English faculty also teach courses such as:

  • English 4592: Special Topics in Women in Literature and Culture—The Renaissance of Renaissance Women Writers [Higginbotham]
  • English 5194: Group Studies—Job and the Problem of Innocent Suffering [Hamlin]
  • Medren 2610: Science and Technology in Medieval and Renaissance Culture [Neville]
  • Medren 4217: Early Modern London-Urban Spaces and Popular Culture [Highley]
  • Medren 5611: History of the Book [Farmer]
  • Medren 5695: Seminar—The European Renaissance [Hamlin]

Graduate Workshops

Recent workshops for Ohio State graduate students on Renaissance-related topics have been led by Roland Greene, Randall McLeod, Stephen Orgel, Dympna Callaghan and Heather Dubrow.


Scholarly Resources

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies is an interdisciplinary center in the College of Arts and Sciences dedicated to the study of history, culture, society, technology and the arts from late antiquity to the early modern era. Each year, the CMRS recognizes outstanding papers written by Ohio State students in medieval or Renaissance courses with the Stanley J. Kahrl and Barbara A. Hanawalt Awards for best undergraduate and graduate student essays. 
English Department Liaison: Hannibal Hamlin
Director for the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies: Christopher Highley

Folger Shakespeare Library Consortium

The Ohio State University is dues-paying consortium member of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Through our consortium membership, graduate students regularly receive funding support to participate in Folger Institute seminars, paleography courses and the dissertation seminar “Researching the Archive.”
Folger Shakespeare Library Liaison: Alan Farmer

Libraries and Special Collections at Ohio State

The Ohio State University Libraries rank among the most highly rated of the public research university libraries in the United States. The main campus library for the study of British and American literature is Thompson Library. Of particular interest to Renaissance students and faculty are the holdings of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, which includes the Stevens-Cox Sigla collection of STC books, the Harold Grimm History of Reformation collection and the Stanley J. Kahrl collection.
Rare Books and Libraries Curator: Eric Johnson


Affiliated Groups

The Renaissance Reading Group

The Renaissance Reading Group meets once or twice per term to read and discuss critical essays/books or unfamiliar primary works, particularly plays. 
Coordinators: Manual Jacquez and Benjamin Moran

The Renaissance Dissertation Seminar

The Renaissance Diessertation Seminar is a regular forum for the presentation and discussion of graduate student work in progress.
Coordinator: Alan Farmer

The Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association

The Medieval and Renaissance Graduate Student Association is an interdisciplinary association of graduate students in medieval and renaissance fields, designed to serve academic, professional, and social needs of these students.
President: Shaun Russell

Lord Denney's Players

Lord Denney's Players is an academic theatrical group housed in the Ohio State Department of English. Founded in 2014, the group provides an opportunity for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to engage in intensive experiential learning and research around the annual production of a play or series of plays. For editors and scholars of textual transmission, performance work is particularly valuable, as it allows literary claims about the playability of moments of textual disturbance to be tested and evaluated. In 2018 LDP was honored by the Columbus City Council for the first modern performance of the first quarto text of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. Other productions have included Shakespeare’s Richard II (spring 2015, in two different texts), The Annunciation/The Second Shepherds’ Play (autumn 2015), and Shakespeare’s The Tempest (spring 2017). In spring 2019, LDP will perform the first quarto text of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Lord Denney's Players Creative Director: Sarah Neville

Renaissance faculaty and graduate students posing together outdoors

(Caption: This photo of Ohio State English Renaissance faculty and current graduate students was taken at a meeting of the Renaissance Dissertation Seminar after performing a Jonsonian retirement masque for Richard Dutton)

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