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What was the influence of the Renaissance on 16th century English literature? |

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In the sixteenth century, men such as Sir Thomas Elyot advocated for educating students in Latin and Greek, bringing the Italian Renaissance squarely into English life. The Renaissance, which means rebirth, brought classical literature from Ancient Greece and Rome back to the forefront of European intellectual culture and initiated a shift from wholly Christian motifs to literature that blended Christian and secular humanist worldviews. Humanist worldviews moved some of the emphasis in thinking away from celebrating God, instead focusing on man as God's glorious and crowning creation.

We see the influence of the Renaissance in England on Sir Thomas More's Utopia, which brought the term "utopia" into the literary lexicon, and on the sonnets of Sir Thomas Wyatt, who introduced England to the Petrarchan sonnet and translated many of Petrarch's sonnets into English, while composing his own as well.

Shakespeare, of course, comes to mind as a person whose output was deeply influenced by his knowledge of classical sources, such as Ovid, which helped him produce Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as his knowledge of classical history, which appears in plays such as Julius Caesar. Shakespeare also transmitted an influential outlook on life that celebrates the interiority and wonder of the human individual. Hamlet, for example, because of his self-reflection, has been called the first modern hero.

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