Murder in Early Modern England (HIH1042)
|Staff||Dr Sarah Toulalan - Convenor|
|Duration of Module||Term 1: 11 weeks;|
The aim of the module is to introduce students to the rich range of sources available that allows historians to analyse the crime of murder in its various manifestations in early modern England. In doing this, the module will help students develop skills in source analysis and research that will provide a foundation for future historical work, particularly in the histories of crime, punishment, and gender.
ILO: Module-specific skills
- 1. Assess the nature of early modern thinking about, attitudes towards and prosecution of murder.
- 2. Work critically with a range of sources for the history of murder in the early modern world.
- 3. Assess the sources in relation to the historical debates surrounding homicide and interpersonal violence.
ILO: Discipline-specific skills
- 4. Identify the problems of using historical sources, e.g. utility, limitations, etc, and compare the validity of different types of sources.
- 5. Answer a question briefly and concisely.
- 6. Present work orally, respond to questions orally, and think quickly of questions to ask other students.
ILO: Personal and key skills
- 7. Conduct independent study and group work, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
- 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
- 9. Work with others in a team and to interact effectively with the tutor and the wider group.
- 10. Write to a very tight word-length.
Following an introductory session in the first week, a separate source will be analysed in each of the remaining 10 weeks. Sources will be diverse including, for example, newspaper reports, legal texts and works of medical jurisprudence, court records, literary and popular representations e.g. in plays, ballads, chapbooks and pamphlets. The first seminar will explain the basic outlines of the subject, providing a framework into which students can then fit the sources they will be studying, as well as explaining the format that the remaining classes will take, in particular, that students will be divided into groups. In subsequent weeks, the class will have been told, in advance, to prepare an answer in 400-500 words to a question relating to one of the set texts. In the class, a group of students will present a selection of answers to the question in turn. The rest of the students will then subdivide into their own groups to comment on the presentation and to ask questions. These questions will then be answered and discussion allowed to develop on key points. In the light of the discussion and the tutor's comments, the students will then self-assess their own work according to a pro-forma, which will then be collected by the tutor for moderation. Finally, the tutor will outline the work to be done for the following week's seminar.
Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)
|Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities||Guided independent study||Placement / study abroad|
Details of learning activities and teaching methods
|Category||Hours of study time||Description|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||2||2 hour lecture: Introduction to module|
|Scheduled learning and teaching activities||20||10 x 2 hour seminars. At a meeting of the whole class generally a different group of 3-4 students will give a presentation to the whole class, followed by class discussion and working through the sources for that week carefully. Additional sources may be issued in the class and the lecturer will also use the time to set up issues for the following week|
|Guided independent study||128||Students prepare for the session through reading and research; writing a weekly source essay and preparing one group presentation in the course of the term|
|Form of assessment||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|Group presentation (3-4 students)||10-15 minutes||1-4, 6-9||Oral|
|Lowest mark from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||500 words||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
Summative assessment (% of credit)
|Coursework||Written exams||Practical exams|
Details of summative assessment
|Form of assessment||% of credit||Size of the assessment (eg length / duration)||ILOs assessed||Feedback method|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||60||2000words (500 per commentary)||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
|Essay||40||1500 words||1-5, 7-8, 10||Mark and written comments|
Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)
|Original form of assessment||Form of re-assessment||ILOs re-assessed||Timescale for re-assessment|
|4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||4 highest marks from portfolio of 5 source commentaries||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
|1500 word essay||1500 word essay||1-5, 7-8, 10||Referral/deferral period|
Indicative learning resources - Basic reading
- Baker, J. H., An Introduction to English Legal History (4th ed., London, 2002)
- Beattie, J M., Policing and punishment in London 1660-1750: urban crime and the limits of terror (Oxford, 2001)
- Clark, Sandra, Women and Crime in the Street Literature of Early Modern England, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
- Cockburn, J S., ‘Patterns of violence in English society: homicide in Kent 1560-1985’ Past and Present, 130 (1991)
- Devereaux & P. Griffiths (eds), Penal practice and culture, 1500-1900: punishing the English (Palgrave, 2004)
- Dolan, F E., ‘Home-rebels and house-traitors: murderous wives in early modern England’, Yale Journal of Law and Humanities, 4 (1992)
- Gaskill, Malcolm, ‘Reporting murder: fiction in the archives in early modern England’, Social History, 23 (1998)
- Gatrell, V A C, The hanging tree: execution and the English people, 1770-1868 (Oxford, 1994)
- Jackson, Mark, New-born child murder: women, illegitimacy and the courts in eighteenth-century England (Manchester : Manchester University Press, 1996)
- MacDonald, Michael and Terence R. Murphy, Sleepless Souls: Suicide in Early Modern England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990)
- Rosenberg, A., ‘The Sarah Stout Murder Case: An Early Example of the Doctor as an Expert Witness’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 12:1 (1957), pp. 61-70
- Saxton, K. S., Narratives of women and murder in England, 1680-1760: deadly plots (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009)
- Sharpe, J A., ‘Domestic homicide in early modern England’, Historical Journal, 24 (1981)
- Sharpe, J. A., Judicial punishment in England (London, 1990)
- Sharpe, J. A., Crime in Early Modern England 1550-1750 (London, 1984)
- Staub, Susan C., Nature's cruel stepdames: murderous women in the street literature of seventeenth century England, (Pittsburgh, Penn.: Duquesne University Press, 2005)
- Sugg, Richard, Murder after Death: Literature and Anatomy in Early Modern England (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2007)
Module has an active ELE page?
Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online (http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/)
- English Broadside Ballad Archive (http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/)
- Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads (http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm)
- Early Modern Books Online (EEBO -through library catalogue)
- Burney Collection of Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Newspapers Online (through library catalogue)
Indicative learning resources - Other resources
Edited collections of calendar of assizes.
Available as distance learning?
Last revision date
Key words search
Murder; homicide; unlawful killing; suicide; infanticide; execution.