Freedom and Fate in the Renaissance

Winter 2018-2019

20562

Sarah Kunjummen

In this course, we will study theories of will and of action that held sway in the Renaissance. Is human choice governed by reason, or are our wills overruled by our own passions—or by divine grace? Can self-determination genuinely arise in political or physical systems determined by history? What does it mean to depict free choice? Questions like these shaped crucial Renaissance debates in parliaments and churches, in laboratories and in the arts. We’ll examine them through both literary and philosophical texts by writers including William Shakespeare, John Donne, Thomas Hobbes, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, and Isaac Newton. (Poetry, Pre-1650, 1650-1830)