The introductory volume in the Reading and Studying Literature series, co-published with the Open University, is designed to introduce students to the Renaissance, and the Eighteenth Century. Each period is discussed in terms of an overarching theme, providing a clear focus for study and discussion and introducing readers to an important theoretical concept in literary studies.
The Renaissance is discussed in terms of themes of love and death in tragic drama, with particular reference to Shakepseare's Othello and John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. The theme of the section on the long Eighteenth Century is travel, and four travel narratives: two fictional and two non-fictional are discussed: Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, Voltaire's Candide, the autobiography of the ex-slave Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and a fascinating case-study of the Mutiny on the Bounty. The theoretical concept of the volume is 'context' and each chapter explores how the meaning of texts is affected by reading them in relation to different contexts.
Anita Pacheco is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the Open University and Chair of the undergraduate course Reading and Studying Literature. David Johnson is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English at the Open University.
Part 1: Love and death in the Renaissance: William Shakespeare, Othello (1604) | John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (1614) | Part 2: Journeys in the long Eighteenth Century : Aphra Behn, Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave (1688) | Voltaire, Candide, or Optimism (1759) | A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, An African Prince, Written by Himself (c. 1770) | The Mutiny on the Bounty