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Reading and studying literature (A230) Part A Part 1 of this book, Love and Death in the Renaissance, deals with a literary period still famous for its experiments in the writing of tragic drama. We study two well-known examples written in the early years of the seventeenth century, William Shakespeare’s Othello and John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Both plays are about marriages for love that violate social norms and are subsequently punished. We consider how the two dramatists depict these forbidden marriages and the ways in which they invest them with tragic meaning. We focus on the two themes of love and death, but we also explore other related themes of the plays, such as race and class. This first part is designed to hone your skills of textual analysis; it will also enable you to begin thinking about plays as texts written for performance. The end of the seventeenth century witnessed the establishment of European colonies across the globe, an expansion of European power that was accompanied by a massive growth of interest in travel writing. In Part 2, entitled Journeys in the Long Eighteenth Century, we look at a number of such travel narratives, fictional and non-fictional, written between the 1680s and the 1790s. We begin with Aphra Behn’s fascinating early novel, Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave, about an African prince tricked into slavery, and then move on to the French writer Voltaire’s satirical tale, Candide, which uses its hero’s journeys within and beyond Europe to interrogate the claim that we live in ‘the best of all possible worlds’. In addition to these two fictional accounts of journeys, we explore the autobiography of an ex-slave as well as the accounts of the famous mutiny on board the Bounty produced by Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian. Part 2 will also consider how reading these texts in relation to their contexts helps us to understand them more fully.