The Sixteenth Century section of Norton Topics Online includes a topic cluster devoted to Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, along with two other topics which address events that profoundly altered English culture and society in this century: the Reformation, and the exploration and attempted conquest of lands beyond the bounds of Britain and Europe.

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Sixteenth Century with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition (anthology page references for the new Seventh Edition are included below):

The Magician, the Heretic, and the Playwright: Faustus, Marlowe, and the English Stage

Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus NAEL8.1.1022
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene NAEL8.1.714
William Shakespeare, King Lear NAEL8.1.1139

The Magician, the Heretic, and the Playwright: Faustus, Marlowe, and the English Stage offers a rich and varied selection of contexts for the in-depth study of Marlowe's play. The texts and images introduce the reader to sorcery in Elizabethan England, Marlowe's own shadowy reputation, and the perceived connections between witchcraft and stagecraft. While this topic cluster is designed to accompany Doctor Faustus, the image of the sorceror in the late sixteenth century also provides vital background for the reading of Spenser's Faerie Queene, and the glimpses of theatrical "special effects" will interest readers of Shakespeare's plays, especially King Lear.

Renaissance Exploration, Travel, and the World Outside Europe

Sir Walter Ralegh, The Discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana NAEL8.1.923
Sir Thomas More, Utopia

NAEL8.1.521

Arthur Golding, Ovid's Metamorphoses [The Golden Age] NAEL8.1.704
Michael Drayton, Ode. To the Virginian Voyage NAEL8.1.1000
Andrew Marvell, Bermudas

NAEL8.1.1698

Aphra Behn, Oroonoko NAEL8.1.2183

Renaissance Exploration, Travel, and the World Outside Europe supplements the section on The Wider World in the Norton Anthology (Seventh Edition) and offers vital background to travel writings such as Sir Walter Ralegh's account of the Guiana expedition. The topic cluster emphasizes the importance of classical models, such as Ovid's description of the Golden Age, in shaping perceptions of the New World. Readers will be able to trace this persistent theme in Drayton's Ode To the Virginian Voyage, and in works of the next century such as Marvell's Bermudas and Behn's Oroonoko.

Dissent, Doubt, and Spiritual Violence in the Reformation

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene NAEL8.1.714
John Skelton NAEL8.1.514
Robert Southwell, The Burning Babe NAEL8.1.616
John Milton, Paradise Lost NAEL8.1.1830
  Areopagitica

NAEL8.1.1816

Dissent, Doubt, and Spiritual Violence in the Reformation adds to the range of texts found in the Norton Anthology section on The Literature of the Sacred, and also includes a fascinating selection of images. The events and debates of the Reformation lie in the background of many of the texts printed in the anthology, notably Book 1 of Spenser's Faerie Queene and Robert Southwell's religious lyric, The Burning Babe. A provocative parallel to the "plain style" of John Skelton is found in the Song of the Pilgrims of Grace. The texts dealing with the translation of the Bible and the martyrdom of Anne Askew will be helpful for students of seventeenth-century literature, especially Paradise Lost and the controversial prose writings of John Milton.

Island Nations

Queen Elizabeth, Speech to the Troops at Tilbury NAEL8.1.699
William Shakespeare, King Lear NAEL8.1.675
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene

NAEL8.1.1139

  The Shepheardes Calender NAEL8.1.714
Isabella Whitney, Will and Testament NAEL8.1.708

Island Nations offers a wide range of texts highlighting the role played by literature in debates over ethnic and national identity. A selection of texts and images relating to Ireland, including Spenser's View of the Present State of Ireland, shed light on the colonial context of The Faerie Queene, and can also form the basis for comparisons with English projects in the New World. John Derricke's scurrilous mock-pastoral description of Ireland makes an intriguing contrast with Spenser's Shepheardes Calender. The long-running debate over the unification of the island of Britain provides essential political background to Shakespeare's King Lear. A pair of texts focusing on Elizabethan London illuminate the dynamic milieu from which the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe sprang, and can be read alongside Whitney's Will and Testament.


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