Renaissance, Reformation and Rebellion (TRU2006)

StaffDr Chloe Preedy - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level5
Pre-requisites120 credits at L1, normally including at least two modules from TRU 1100/1101/1103/1104. Applications to take this module by students who have not taken at least 30 credits in English at L1 will be assessed by the module convenor and the Director of Education (Penryn Humanities) on a case-by-case basis
Duration of Module Term 1: 12 weeks;

Module aims

The module will consider a selection of dramatic, poetic and prose works from the English Renaissance period. Topics covered through the set texts and authors will include how writers of this period responded to classical literature, including ancient Greek and Roman poetry; the way that Elizabethan and Jacobean literary texts responded to anxiety about religious belief and the meaning of ‘Englishness’ after the introduction of a Protestant national church; and the political and literary impact of the English Civil Wars, as well as the sexual and political libertinism that is particularly associated with a post-war Restoration culture. Students will also be encouraged to recognise some of the ways in which literary works and stylistic innovations from this period of history have exerted an important influence upon subsequent literature. By introducing students to the key debates about culture, religion and politics that sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature was responding to and engaging with, the module will cultivate the ability to analyse literature through detailed attention to history and context. It will build the historical and literary research skills required for the in-depth analysis of early modern texts and issues, which are also applicable to the study of literary and historical texts in general. Students will be taught to use online primary sources and encouraged to conduct independent research. They will be expected to participate in seminar discussion and debate, to undertake study group tasks for seminars, and to make presentations. Together with essay writing, these skills are fundamental to research and communication, and will provide students with transferrable verbal and written skills relevant to the workplace. By the end of this module, students will have become familiar with a substantial body of literature from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and will be able to potentially put that knowledge and the related skills they have acquired to practical use when pursuing future careers in (for instance) the communication, creative, arts, education, and media sectors. Note: Penalties will be applied for non-submission of the formative assessment on this module. Please see the College of Humanities Taught Handbook for more information.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate an informed knowledge and understanding of specific early modern literary texts and authors;
  • 2. demonstrate an informed knowledge of historical developments that influenced early modern literature;
  • 3. demonstrate the ability to analyse how early modern literature responds to the historical, intellectual, and social developments of the period.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. demonstrate the ability to effectively analyse the literature of an earlier era;
  • 5. demonstrate the ability to relate the concerns and/or modes of expression identified in the literature of an earlier era to its historical, cultural or intellectual context;
  • 6. demonstrate an informed understanding of relevant theoretical and/or critical ideas, and the ability to apply these ideas to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. demonstrate effective research and bibliographic skills, the capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and the capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 8. through preparation for seminars and essays, demonstrate proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 9. demonstrate the ability to develop, organize, and express ideas effectively in written form to set deadlines and/or in a time-limited setting.

Syllabus plan

Week 1: Renaissance Reformations (selected works by Lanyer, Herbert, and Southwell)

Week 2: Desire and Disorder (Shakespeare, Sonnets; Marlowe, Hero and Leander)

Week 3: Playing at Treason (Marlowe, Edward II)

Week 4: England's Epic (Spenser, The Faerie Queene [extracts])

Week 5: Brave New Worlds (Shakespeare, The Tempest; Montaigne, ‘Of Cannibals’)

Week 6: No taught seminars

Week 7: John Donne - Poet and Preacher (selected works by Donne)

Week 8: City Comedy (Jonson, The Alchemist)

Week 9: The Poet-Politician (Milton's Paradise Lost [selected books]; Marvell, selected verse)

Week 10: Edenic Spaces (Milton's Paradise Lost [selected books]; Herrick, selected verse)

Week 11: Visionary Writers (Cavendish, The Blazing World; Winstanley, The True Levellers Standard)

Week 12: Libertine Literature (Behn, The Rover; Rochester, selected works)

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 Activities11 hoursLecture (11x1hr)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22 hoursSeminars (11 x 2hour seminar): you will need to prepare for each seminar and to complete additional tasks as set by the tutor
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities5 hours5 x 1-hour workshops
Guided independent study11 hoursStudy-group meetings (11 x 1-hour meetings): independent student discussion of set study questions in assigned study groups
Guided independent study252 hoursIndependent preparation for scheduled sessions, follow-up work, wider reading, completion of assessment tasks, etc.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
annotated bibliography1000 words1,2,6,8,9written comments
oral presentation10 mins2,3,5,8Verbal feedback in booked office hour, based on tutor notes

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
essay502000 words1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9Coversheet (written)
exam ('seen' paper)502 hours1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9Coversheet (written)

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
essayEssay 2,000 words1-5, 7-9referral/deferral period
exam ('seen' paper)exam ('seen' paper)1-5,7-10referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Alternative arrangements for formative presentation: If a student cannot complete the presentation before the end of term due to illness or other relevant mitigating circumstances, a summary of its content plus PowerPoint slides/a written handout/equivalent must be emailed to the seminar leader.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic Reading: Core Texts (you should purchase and read these works before the start of term):

• The Norton Anthology of English Literature, ed. M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt et. al., 9th edition (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2012), Volume 1 or Volumes B and C

• Aphra Behn, ‘The Rover’ and Other Plays, ed. Jane Spencer, Oxford World's Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

• Ben Jonson, Five Plays ed. G.A. Wilkes, Oxford World's Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) [contains The Alchemist], or an alternative modern edition of The Alchemist

• Christopher Marlowe, 'Doctor Faustus' and Other Plays, ed. David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen, Oxford World's Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

• William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. Alden T. Vaughan and Virginia Mason Vaughan (London: Arden/Bloomsbury, 2011) You may also wish to buy a printed copy of Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World and Other Writings, ed. Kate Lilley (Penguin, 1994); alternatively, an e-book version of this edition can be accessed through the University of Exeter library catalogue.

Recommended Secondary Reading (indicative): you need not purchase these texts, but please read them during the course of the module; the first two works listed below are especially useful as an introduction to the period.

• Jason Scott-Warren, Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: Polity, 2005)

• Graham Parry, The Seventeenth Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1603-1700 (1989) • Catherine Belsey, John Milton: Language, Gender, Power (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)

• J. A. Downie and J. T. Parnell, eds., Constructing Christopher Marlowe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

• Stanley Fish, Surprised by Sin: The Reader in Paradise Lost (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967; 1998)

• Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: Britain, 1603-1714 (London: Penguin, 1997)

• Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988)

• Achsah Guibbory, Ceremony and Community from Herbert to Milton: Literature, Religion, and Cultural Conflict in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

• Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992)

• Derek Hughes, The Theatre of Aphra Behn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001)

• Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman, ‘The Tempest’ and its Travels (2000)

• James Loxley, The Complete Critical Guide to Ben Jonson (London: Routledge, 2002)

• Michael Schoenfeldt, ed., A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

• Bruce R. Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1991)

• Ramie Targoff, John Donne, Body and Soul (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)

• Lisa Walters, Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Science and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014)

ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages Web based and electronic resources: Dictionary of National Biography Early Modern Literary Studies EEBO JSTOR Project Muse Renaissance and Reformation The Milton Reading Room World Shakespeare Bibliography Online The ELE site for this module contains resources including full-text articles, additional website links, and a digitised module reading list with links to the University of Exeter library’s e-book holdings and catalogue of resources.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Other resources:

• British Film Institute, Silent Shakespeare: King John/The Tempest/A Midsummers Night Dream/King Lear/Twelfth Night/Merchant of Venice/Richard III [DVD: a collection of early silent film adaptations of Shakespeare's works]

• John Gorrie, dir., The Tempest (1980), starring Michael Hordern an

d Warren Clarke [DVD]

• Derek Jarman, dir., Edward II (1991), starring Steven Waddington, Andrew Tiernan [DVD]

• Derek Jarman, dir., The Tempest (1979), starring Heathcote Williams and Karl Johnson [DVD]

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Key words search

Renaissance, early modern, Reformation, Civil War, Restoration, literature