Romance and Melancholia

Subject 670-336 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 3 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1.5-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week
Total Time Commitment: Not available

Usually 12.5 points of first-year English.

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:

Subject Overview:

This subject focuses on two contrasting representations of human experience in late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English literature. Traditionally described as 'Elizabethan romance' and 'Jacobean melancholy', each developed a set of distinctive characteristics that can be studied most engagingly in its symptomatic masterpieces: idealism in Spenser's epic romance The Faerie Queene (1590-96), and melancholia in Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet (1599-1601). Where romance offered an sympathetic expression of the court structures and cultural achievements of Elizabeth's reign, melancholia became the key note of the political, economic and cosmic pessimism of the fin de sicle. Both 'romance' and 'melancholia' will be studied as literary forms, social discourses and somatic formations. These are the contexts in which we will reconsider some famous literary texts by Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Donne, and the encyclopaedist of the syndrome of melancholia, Robert Burton. Students who successfully complete this subject will be familiar with the central philosophical, political and literary forms of romance and melancholia and will understand contemporary critical and cultural paradigms for the reading of Elizabethan and Jacobean texts.

Objectives: Students who successfully complete this subject will be familiar with the main historical events, social practices and cultural production of the Elizabethan period;
have learnt how to analyse texts by Sidney, Spenser and Shakespeare;
understand contemporary critical and cultural paradigms for the reading of Elizabethan texts.

Written work of 4000 words, comprising one 1500-word essay worth 40% (due mid-semester), and one final essay of 2500 words worth 60% (due in the examination period).

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader containing contextual and critical material will be available.

  • Hamlet (W Shakespeare), Oxford Worlds Classics
  • The Faerie Queene (E Spenser), Penguin
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to apply new research skills and critical methods to a field of inquiry;

  • develop critical self-awareness and shape and strengthen persuasive arguments;

  • be able to communicate arguments and ideas effectively and articulately, both in writing and to others.


Students who have completed 106-210 Elizabethan Texts are not eligible to enrol in this subject. This subject can be credited as an elective subject towards the Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in Gender Studies.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Ancient, Medieval && Early Modern Studies Major
English Literary Studies Major
Gender Studies

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