Renaissance and Revolution (EAS2080)

StaffDr Ayesha Mukherjee -
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims at exploring the interplay between literary form and social and political conflict in seventeenth-century England. On completing the course, students will have a greater knowledge and understanding of the work of major authors such as Shakespeare and Behn, alongside that of prophets and communists, satirists and libertines. The module aims to encourage debate over the status of the professional writer, the representation of women, the significance of sexuality and the body, and the role played by literature in fashioning religious and political identity in early modern England. Through the study of literary texts students will be introduced to the political and social conflicts which divided English society before and during the Civil War and the Restoration, and which continue to shape modern British politics and national identity. They will be able to appreciate the contestatory, rapidly developing nature of writing during the English Renaissance, and consider whether, culturally as well as historically, the years 1640-1660 deserve the title of ‘the Revolution’.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific seventeenth-century authors and texts;
  • 2. demonstrate an informed appreciation of seventeenth-century literary history;
  • 3. demonstrate an informed appreciation of the relation between seventeenth-century literature and important historical and intellectual developments of the time;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate an ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 5. demonstrate an ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history;
  • 6. demonstrate an ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. through seminar work, demonstrate communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups;
  • 8. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 9. through research for seminars and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis;
  • 10. through sitting their final examination, demonstrate proficiency in the use of memory and in the development, organization, and expression of ideas under pressure of time.

Syllabus plan

Weeks 1 to 4: Early Stuart England

  • Sex in the city: Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

  • Court spectacles: Ben Jonson, ‘Masque of Blackness’ and ‘Masque of Beauty'

  • Poetry and the countryside: Aemilia Lanyer and Ben Jonson, poems

  • Discipline and pain: John Ford, The Broken Heart

Weeks 5 to 9: the mid-century

  • The Cavalier poets: Carew, Herrick, Lovelace

  • The young John Milton: ‘Lycidas' and other poems

  • Andrew Marvell, Poems

  • Images of Charles I and Cromwell: Katherine Philips, Lucy Hutchinson and others

  • Prophets, Radicals and Communists: Coppe, Winstanley, Trapnel

Weeks 10 to 11: The Restoration (1660) onwards

  • Sexuality in the Restoration: Aphra Behn and the Earl of Rochester

  • Anti-Restoration Drama: Milton, Samson Agonistes

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 15lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 22seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 1workshop
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities 1Revision lecture
Guided independent study 70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study 191reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay452000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Exam452 hours1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.
Seminar Participation10Continuous Oral Feedback with opportunity for office hours follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 8-9Referral/deferral period
ExamExam1-6, 8-10Referral/deferral period
Seminar ParticipationRepeat Study or mitigation Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, volume B: the sixteenth century / the early seventeenth century, Ninth Edition (W.W. Norton, 2012)

William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (Oxford World Classics, 1998)

John Ford, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore and other plays (Oxford World Classics, 1999)

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Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date

February 2012

Key words search

English, Literature, Renaissance, Early Modern, Revolution