What is a “World”?

What is a “World”?

For this take-home “quiz,” you should download this Word document, type your answers below each question, and upload your completed quiz to Quercus. Please answer in complete sentences. This quiz is open book and open note; you should feel free to refer to lectures and lecture notes, but should not need to consult any websites to answer the questions below. Note that your goal should be not to parrot answers back exactly (to copy and paste from lecture notes), but to demonstrate your understanding of some of the larger ideas and concepts by putting ideas into your own words. The questions will also ask you to take ideas we’ve covered in lectures and discussions and apply them push them slightly further. The quiz is out of ten points.

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For most questions 1-2 sentences should suffice to answer – these are designed to be short-answer questions, not essay questions!


  1. In your own words, define “periodization”. How would it change our understanding of Thomas More’s Utopia (a Renaissance text) to ignore periodization, and read it as a text belonging to the medieval period?


  1. At some points in his narrative Thomas More says he thinks that this other world Hythloday has discovered, Utopia, could serve as a model for Europe; at other points he distances himself from Utopian practices. Which do you actually think is true (does he want Europeans to emulate Utopia?), and why? Choose a specific moment in his text to support your answer.


  1. Consider the following image from Thomas Harriott, where the child (a young girl?) is branding some sort of European scientific instrument (probably an astrolabe) in one hand, and a tiny doll dressed in Elizabethan clothing in the other. Analyze why you think the illustrator has chosen to depict the child holding these two objects.



  1. Thomas More’s Utopia depicts an imaginary new “world,” while Hariott’s True Description depicts a real one. But please consider them together from the perspective of style, or of how they are written. Stylistically, what is something they share in common? Stylistically, what is one significant difference between them (and why do you think it is significant)? The more specific you can be the better!


  1. John Donne’s “The Sun Rising” compares his beloved to an entire world, and asserts that because she is a whole world, “both th’Indias of spice and mine […] lie here with me.” What does he mean by “both the Indias” (what would we call each “India” today?)? What other place in the poem shows him thinking about his beloved in potentially colonial terms?


  1. How does Margaret Cavendish’s “Of Stars” invoke the “th’East Indies” in order to make a broader argument about knowledge? Imagine that “Of Stars” is an argumentative paper; if you had to write a thesis statement summarizing the argument of Cavendish’s poem, what would that thesis statement be (what is the argument of the poem)?


The next two questions are about Hester Pulter’s poem “The Universal Dissolution,” which ends with the following six lines:


But these and all the fixèd orbs of light

Shall be involved once more in horrid night.

Like robes, the elements shall folded lie

In the vast wardrobe of eternity.

Then my unsettled soul be more resolved,

Seeing all this universe must be dissolved.


  1. Our best friend the OED tells us that the verb “resolve” could mean to settle, decide, or determine (definition 17.a), or it could mean to melt or dissolve (definition 1.a). Which of the those two definitions do you think makes the most sense here: is she telling her soul to firm itself up or settle itself, or to dissolve? How do you support your decision (what else in this poem or in her other poem supports her choice)?


  1. The elements are the four fundamental building blocks of nature (earth, air, water, fire) that some premodern authors thought made up all of nature. Analyze the image of the middle two lines of this passage: what does it mean to think that at the end of everything and the dissolution of the elements, the elements will be folded like robes in the wardrobe or closet of eternity? What difference does it make to her cosmological vision to introduce a domestic metaphor here (a metaphor almost set in the house)?


  1. Both Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Traherne imagine worlds within our worlds via mundane things: Cavendish posits a world in an earring, and Traherne posits a world in a puddle. What is each one’s purpose in imagining these worlds within worlds?


  1. Discuss the relationship between the two different “worlds” or planes of existence depicted in Herbert’s “Artillery”. Does the speaker of the poem imagine himself as separate from but equal to God, or subordinated? What do you think it means when the speaker says in the last line, “I am but finite, yet thine infinitely.”

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