ENG-20050 - The Renaissance: Shakespeare and Beyond
Coordinator: Rebecca Yearling Room: CBB2.061 Tel: +44 1782 7 34282
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office: 01782 733147

Programme/Approved Electives for 2020/21


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2020/21

The 16th and early 17th centuries are a key period in the development of English literature. This was the age of Shakespeare, and during this time he and his contemporaries, such as Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, produced some of the most interesting and exciting plays ever written. It was an age of lyric poetry, with the development of the English sonnet, and the astonishing, challenging works produced by writers like John Donne, Mary Wroth, Aemilia Lanyer and Anne Southwell. It was also a time of great historical change, with important debates going on about the nature of religion, the status of women, and the new developments in science. In this module, we will study a wide range of texts from this period, from tragedies to the speeches of Queen Elizabeth I to romantic and religious poetry. We will explore themes such as gender, sexuality, social criticism, religious faith and family relationships. We will gain a greater appreciation and understanding of a fascinating period of English history, as well as sharing the exhilaration of exploring these supreme examples of literature. Besides giving you some familiarity with a specific period in English literary history, this module will also help develop skills appropriate to the study of literature more generally. These skills include textual analysis, constructing cogent arguments supported by evidence, the capacity to recognise culturally and historically different perspectives, and the ability to reflect critically on those perspectives.
Suggested introductory reading:
Susan Bruce and Rebecca Steinberger, eds., The Renaissance Literature Handbook (London: Continuum, 2009)
Michael Hattaway, Renaissance and Reformations: An Introduction to Early Modern English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
Jason Scott-Warren, Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005)

To give students a grounding in the literature and context of one of the most important periods in English Literature.
To develop students' abilities in reading, analysing and coming to informed judgement about major, complex works of poetry and drama.

Intended Learning Outcomes

demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of the close reading of complex literature: 1,2
identify and critically discuss key features of early modern literature with regards to themes, genre, gender and politics: 1,2
reflect on their own learning and identify areas of the subject that they find particularly interesting and/or challenging: 1
competently research, organise, reference and present their ideas in written form: 1,2
display an understanding of the connections between literature and its social, cultural, intellectual and historical contexts: 1,2

Study hours

10 x 1 hour lectures (10 hours)
10 x 1 hour small group class (10 hours)
Reading and class preparation (90 hours)
Portfolio (10 hours)
Essay preparation and writing (30 hours)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Portfolio weighted 30%
Student contributions to discussion boards over the semester
Students will be asked to contribute regularly to an online discussion board over the course of the semester, making 1-2 comments each week in response to tutor-provided prompts. At the end of the semester, students will collect up their contributions and submit them as a portfolio for marking. The portfolio has no formal word-limit, but in it, students will be required to show some engagement with each of the four main topics studied on the module - Renaissance sonnets, the poetry of John Donne, women's writing and King Lear.

2: Essay weighted 70%
Research essay
Students will choose a theme from a list of 8-10 that will be provided to them. They will write a researched essay discussing the way in which 2-3 of their principal texts/authors treat this theme. The essay will require them to demonstrate close reading skills, an ability to engage with secondary criticism, an awareness of historical contexts, and the ability to create an overall argument about their texts. Essay length - 2000 words.