Ghosts, Witches and Demons: The Renaissance Supernatural (EAS3409)

30 credits

This module explores the representation of the supernatural in a selection of poetic, dramatic and prose works written between 1580 and 1680. Among its topics will be consideration of how representations of the supernatural – witches, ghosts, devils, spirits, angels – could be in tension with Christian religious belief to the point where such representations might be held to be irreligious or atheistic, and how great imaginative writers such as Marlowe, Shakespeare and Milton combine, or fail to combine, orthodox religious belief with representation of the supernatural. Some of the greatest works of English literature are covered in the module: Doctor Faustus, Macbeth, Hamlet and Paradise Lost (to which three weeks are devoted). Each week the chosen literary text will be supplemented by a piece of contextual reading relating to, for example, ideas about witchcraft in the period; about the trustworthiness of ghosts; about the nature of angels, and about the rise of ‘atheistic’ beliefs.