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The PhD Oral Examination

in the

Renaissance Period

(updated 05-May-2004)

As a general rule candidates for the Ph.D. orals should work up an orals list with the area adviser comprising approximately 40 primary texts (books or the equivalent) and distributed more or less equally among poetry, prose, and drama. Individual lists should feature 5 plays by Shakespeare, in various genres. These English Renaissance lists should reflect the importance of classical learning, religious traditionalism and Reformation controversy, and other aspects of England's engagement with the culture of Europe at large. In addition to forty primary texts, lists must include six secondary works.





Charles d'Orleans













Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke





Giles Fletcher








Elizas Babes (Anon., 1652)






Prose (Non-Fiction)

Erasmus , Praise of Folly

Machiavelli, The Prince

Castiglione, The Courtier

More, History of King Richard III / Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation

Roper, Life of More

Cavendish, Life of Wolsey

Elyot, Book of the Governor

Starkey, A Dialogue between Pole and Lupset

Wilson, The Art of Rhetoric

Ascham, The Scholemaster

Smith, De Republica Anglorum

Book of Common Prayer

Montaigne, Essays

Hooker, Law of Ecclesiastical Polity

Elizabeth I's speeches

Sidney, Defense of Poetry

Puttenham, The Arte of English Poesie

Camden, Britannia / Remains Concerning Britain

James I's writings

King James Bible (selections)

Donne, Paradoxes / Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions / Sermons

Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (sample selections: Democritus Junior to the Reader; I.i.2. Division of the Body, Humours, and Spirits; I.i.7. Of the Inward Senses; III.ii. 2. Love or Heroical Melancholy)

Bacon, Essays / The Advancement of Learning / Novum Organum

Browne, Religio Medici / Urn Burial / Gardens of Cyrus / Pseudodoxia Epidemica

"Charles I," Eikon Basilike

Taylor, Holy Dying

Milton, Of Education / The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce / Areopagitica / political writings / De Doctrina Christiana

Filmer, Patriarcha / Harrington, Oceana / Sexby, Killing No Murder / other political tracts (as in Wooton's Divine Right and Democracy )

Hobbes, Leviathan

Sprat, History of the Royal Society


Prose (Fiction)

Malory , Mort d'Arthure

More, Utopia

Gascoigne, The Adventures of Master FJ

Lyly, Euphues : The Anatomy of Wit

Sidney, Arcadia [Old and / or New ]

Deloney, Jack of Newbury

Greene, Pandosto . The Triumph of Time

Nashe , The Unfortunate Traveller

Wroth, Urania

Cavendish, The Blazing World


Henry Medwall, Nature / Fulgens and Lucrece


Skelton, Magnyfycence

Tudor Interludes ( Hick Scorner, Youth ... )

Palsgrave, Acolastus

Udall, Ralph Roister Doister

Gascoigne, Supposes


Sackville and Norton, Gorboduc

Peele, The Old Wives Tale

Greene, George a Greene/ Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay / James IV

Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy

Marlowe, Tamburlaine / Edward II / The Jew of Malta / Dr. Faustus

Nashe, Summer's Last Will and Testament


Arden of Feversham

The Yorkshire Tragedy

Shakespeare (5 or more plays)

Jonson (2 or more plays) / (1 or more masques)

Marston, The Malcontent

Chapman, Bussy d'Ambois

Non-Jonsonian masques (as in Lindley's Court Masques anthology)

Heywood, A Woman Killed with Kindness

Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle

Beaumont and Fletcher, Philaster / A King and No King

Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday

Cary, Miriam

The Revenger’s Tragedy

Middleton, The Changeling / A Chaste Maid in Cheapside / Women Beware Women

Webster, The Duchess of Malfi / The White Devil

Massinger, A New Way to Pay Old Debts

Ford, Perkin Warbeck / ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore


Secondary Works (3 from each category)

Literary History and Criticism

Barkan, The Gods Made Flesh
Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition / Petrarchan Love and the Continental Renaissance
Cave, The Cornucopian Text

Cummings, The Literary Culture of the Reformation

Ferguson, Quilligan, and Vickers, eds., Rewriting the Renaissance
Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning
Greene, The Light in Troy
Guibbory, Ceremony and Community from Herbert to Milton

Hadfield, Literature, Travel, and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance
Helgerson, Self-Crowned Laureates / Forms of Nationhood
King, Reformation Literature: the Tudor Origins of the Protestant Tradition

Love, Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England

Maus, Inwardness and Theater in the English Renaissance

Norbrook, Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissace (rev. ed.)

Orgel, Impersonations

Paster, The Body Embarrassed

Rebhorn, The Emperor of Men's Minds

Sawday, The Body Emblazoned

Schoenfeldt, Bodies and Selves in Early Modern England

Wall, The Imprint of Gender / Staging Domesticity

Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance

Political, Social, and Intellectual History

Amussen, An Ordered Society
Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars

Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change
Gent, ed., Albion's Classicism

Grafton and Jardine, From Humanism to the Humanities
Hill, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (rev. ed.)

Jardine, Worldly Goods

Jardine / Brotton, Global Interests
Kerrigan and Braden, The Idea of the Renaissance

Rogers, The Matter of Revolution: Science, Poetry, and Politics in the Age of Milton

Schochet, Patriarchialism in Political Thought
Shuger, The Renaissance Bible

Skinner, Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes

Sommerville, Sex and Subjection

Stallybrass / Jones, Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory

Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth
Targoff, Common Prayer

Thomas, Man and the Natural World / Religion and the Decline of Magic

Wrightson, Earthly Necessities