ENG-30077 - Gender and Power in Restoration Literature
Coordinator: Rachel Adcock Tel: +44 1782 7 33144
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 6
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

In 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne following a particularly tumultuous time in English history where, for just over a decade, England was ruled as a republic. Charles¿s return and the decadence of his newly-restored court brought about a new literary engagement with sexual and social freedom: writings produced in this period frequently engage with erotic as well as political and philosophical subjects, revealing scepticism about received moral and social codes of behaviour, and still have the ability to shock and surprise readers today. During the module we will consider a variety of literary works from the period 1660-89 that are concerned with power relations and courtship, including poems, plays, and prose narratives, and explore how these texts engage with the larger social and political concerns of the period. A particular focus of the module will be engaging in comparisons between the approaches of male writers towards issues of power and gender, and the approaches of women writers, including the most prolific and successful playwright of the period, Aphra Behn. Behn¿s writings, in particular, offer exciting criticisms of male authority and the constraints placed on women¿s behaviour, and highlight the contradiction between these constraints and the period¿s more general fascination with liberty and sexual freedom. Writers studied on the module may include Aphra Behn, John Dryden, Sarah Fyge Egerton, the Earl of Rochester, and William Wycherley.
General preliminary reading
I would recommend Warren Chernaik's, Sexual Freedom in Restoration Literature (1995), and Deborah Payne Fisk (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Restoration Theatre (2012).
The 2004 film, The Libertine (dir. Laurence Dunmore) would also be a helpful introduction (it follows the debauched life of the Earl of Rochester and is not for the faint-hearted!).

To introduce students to a range of writings from the period 1660-1689.
To develop students¿ ability to connect literary texts to important social and political concerns of their time.
To develop students¿ skills in reading and analysing complex literary works from different historical periods.

Intended Learning Outcomes

demonstrate detailed knowledge of the range of writings produced by Restoration writers, and their historical, social, and cultural contexts: 1,2
analyse literary texts from a range of forms and genres effectively, and integrate this analysis into their critical writing: 1,2
use critical and contextual sources effectively, and understand key scholarly debates in this area: 1,2
use appropriate scholarly referencing systems and present written work in a scholarly manner: 1,2

Study hours

33 hours of workshops/seminars; 66 hours reading and tutorial preparation; 30 hours researching and writing the final essay; 20 hours researching and writing the short paper; 1 hour individual consultation

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 70%
Researched essay of 2,500 words
Students will choose one from a list of topics and write a researched essay of 2,500 words. Students will compare and contrast two or more works studied on the module. Students will also be given the opportunity to write their own question (subject to agreement by the tutor).

2: Short Paper weighted 30%
Critical analysis of a poem/extract of 1,500 words OR critical edition equivalent to 1,500 words
Students will choose one poem/extract from a list provided and write a 1,500-word critical analysis of it focusing on how the work chosen engages with its political/cultural context. OR Students will choose a text/extract from a list provided and produce a critical edition of it including footnotes and an introduction.