ENG-20050 - The Renaissance: Shakespeare and Beyond
Coordinator: Becky 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 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

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 comedies and tragedies to romantic and religious poetry. We will explore themes such as gender, sexuality, social criticism, religious faith, family relationships, and crime and punishment. 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, prose and drama.
To give students an insight into how publishing worked in the early modern period, and allow them the chance to engage practically with the modern editing process.

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: 2
competently research, organise, reference and present their ideas in written form: 2
display an understanding of the connections between literature and its social, cultural, intellectual and historical contexts:

Study hours

12 x 1 hour lectures (12 hours)
12 x 1 hour seminars (12 hours)
12 x 1 hour workshop (12 hours)
Reading and class preparation (74 hours)
Short paper assignment writing (10 hours)
Final essay or edition preparation and writing (30 hours)

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Short Paper weighted 30%
Close reading
Students will be asked to pick a short extract (c.10-40 lines) of their choice from a text studied on the module and perform a close reading of it. The close reading should be structured as an argument, drawing upon the text in detail to support its case. The assignment will be 800 words (+/- 10%). Students will be supported by tutors in choosing their extract.

2: Essay weighted 70%
Research essay or mini edition
Students will choose between writing a research essay or creating a mini edition of selected sonnets. For the research essay, students will choose a theme from a list of c.8 that will be provided to them and will write an 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 - 1200 words (+/- 10%). Alternatively, students will choose to create a mini edition of selected Renaissance sonnets. They will be provided with a selection of sonnets (by a variety of authors) in facsimiles of the original early modern first editions, and asked to edit c. 3 of them (e.g. choosing whether or not to modernise spelling and punctuation), provide appropriate marginal glosses and annotations, and write a short statement explaining what kind of audience their edition would be suitable for (e.g. high school pupils or academics) and how this is reflected in their editing choices. Students on the module will receive a workshop, a lecture and a seminar that focus on how to complete this assignment. Length of edition: c.1200 words (+/- 10%)