The Body in Early Modern England: Sources (HIH3132)

StaffDr Sarah Toulalan - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3133 ' The Body in Early Modern England: Context
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

To provide a detailed study of the sources available in English for a history of the body in early modern England.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Analyse closely the main sources readily available in English (both originally in English and translations of continental texts) for a study of the body in early modern England, both as stand-alone texts or images and in comparison with each other.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 2. Analyse the source material and to assess its value as historical evidence in the wider context of the histories of sexuality, medicine and scientific development.
  • 3. Focus on and comprehend a wide range of texts and of varying complexity.
  • 4. Understand and interpret the unfamiliar beliefs and practices of this historical period.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Independently and autonomously study and also work within a group, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 6. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 7. Present complex arguments both orally and in writing.

Syllabus plan

The syllabus will include some, or all, of the following topics.

Anatomy. Sex and gender. Medicine, health and disease. Body functions. Life-stages from infancy to old age. Death and dissection. Clothing and nakedness. Conception, pregnancy and childbirth. Sex, sexuality and sexual regulation. Pornography and prostitution. Deformity, disability and ‘other’ bodies.

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 activities44Seminars (2hr x 22)
Guided independent study256Independent study

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
Portfolio of 2 pieces of written work702 assignments totalling 4,000 words1-7mark and written comments
Individual presentation3020-30 minutes1-7mark and written comments

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-6Referral/deferral period
Individual presentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation.1-7Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Anon., Aristoteles Master-piece, or The Secrets of Generation displayed in all the parts thereof (1684)  Barrough, Phillip, The Methode of Phisicke (1583)
Cuffe, Henry, The Differences of the Ages of Mans Life (1607)
Crooke, Helkiah, Microcosmographia: Or, The Whole Body of Man (1615)
Lemnius, Levinus, The Secret Miracles of Nature: In Four Books (1658)
Riverius, Lazarus. The Practice of Physick, Etc. Trans. Nicholas Culpeper, Abdiah Cole and William Rowland (1655 [1640])
Sharp, Jane, The Midwives Book: or the whole art of midwifry discover’d (1671)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Early Modern English Books Online (EEBO)
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Old Bailey Online
Burney Collection of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Newspapers Online
English Broadside Ballad Archive -
Proceedings of the Old Bailey -
Lives -

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Clark, Anna, The History of Sexuality in Europe: a Sourcebook and Reader (New York: Routledge, 2010)
Davis, Lloyd (ed), Sexuality and gender in the English Renaissance: an annotated edition of contemporary documents (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998)
McCormick, Ian, Secret Sexualities: A Sourcebook of 17th and 18th century writing (London: Routledge, 1996)
Phillips, Kim M. and Barry Reay, Sexualities in History: A Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 2001)
Ragan, Bryant T., Jr. (eds), Homosexuality in Early Modern France: A Documentary Collection (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
Printed collection of Roxburghe Ballads

Other material from module lecturer(s) as needed.

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Body; bodies; sex; sexualities; gender; medicine; health; anatomy; pregnancy; childbirth; prostitution; pornography; deformity; disability.