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The introductory volume in the Reading and Studying Literature series, co-published with the Open University, is designed to introduce students to the Renaissance, and the Eighteenth Century. Each period is discussed in terms of an overarching theme, providing a clear focus for study and discussion and introducing readers to an important theoretical concept in literary studies. The Renaissance is discussed in terms of themes of love and death in tragic drama, with particular reference to Shakepsare's Othello and John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. The theme of the section on the long Eighteenth Century is travel, and four travel narratives: two fictional and two non-fictional are discussed: Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, Voltaire's Candide, the autobiography of the ex-slave Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and a fascinating case-study of the Mutiny on the Bounty. The theoretical concept of the volume is 'context' and each chapter explores how the meaning of texts is affected by reading them in relation to different contexts.