Gender, Society and Culture in Early Modern England (HISM031)

StaffDr Sarah Toulalan - Lecturer
Dr Laura Sangha - Lecturer
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Gender was an important category of difference in early modern society and had significant impact on the lives of both men and women. Ideas about the nature of each sex affected all areas of men's and women's lives and could have both positive and negative consequences. The aim of this module is to evaluate the nature, extent and importance of gender difference to society and culture in early modern England through the exploration of a wide range of subjects that may include: theoretical perspectives on gender and history; contemporary theory about the nature and roles of men and women in early modern society; marriage and the family; the household, work and economic lives; bodies, health, medicine and sexuality; masculinity and patriarchy; the law; religion and witchcraft; class, power, government and politics. The relationships between discourses about gender and the historical evidence about men and women's lives in the period will be explored both through reading in the extensive secondary literature of gender, women's history and masculinity as well as through the study of primary sources such as wills, court records, advice books, popular literature (ballads and pamphlets, for example), medical books, diaries and personal memoirs.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of key themes and issues in the history of early modern gender, society and culture
  • 2. Demonstrate an awareness of historiographical debates in the various subject areas studied
  • 3. Demonstrate an understanding of the nature and significance of gender to early modern English society and culture
  • 4. Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of a wide selection of primary source materials and be able to evaluate their historical value critically.
  • 5. Propose and begin work on a dissertation on some aspect of this subject if they so choose

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Analyse and synthesise widely different types of historical material and evidence
  • 7. Identify and understand the nature of original sources
  • 8. Critically understand key historical concepts and debates
  • 9. Research independently and present interpretations of different historical issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 10. Demonstrate capacity for independent critical study and thought
  • 11. Apply key bibliographical skills (including the use of online searching aids).
  • 12. Construct and defend a sustained argument, both in written form and orally, using primary and secondary materials
  • 13. Work as an individual and with a tutor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way (e.g. lead a group discussion or task).
  • 14. Analyse, summarise, and organise material to produce a coherent and cogent argument, within specific deadlines

Syllabus plan

Week 1: Introduction (whole module team) Weeks 2 to 10: a selection from the following topics. This will be a team-taught module and the annual programme of seminars will vary according to the composition of the module team and student choice: (a) Gender: history and theory, practical approaches (b) Witchcraft; religion; urban development; education and social relations; medicine (c) Masculinity; law and crime; government and politics; power and patriarchy; class and social hierarchies (d) Marriage and the family; reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth; sexuality; parents and children; health and medicine (e) Marriage and property; the gendered division of labour; women in the urban economy; women and independence/single women; widows, poverty and poor relief (f) the Reformation; mysticism; witchcraft; science and knowledge; Week 11: Conference workshop with assessed individual presentations.

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 activities22seminars
Guided independent study278independent 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
essay 373,000 word 1-14Individual feedback through personal tutorials.
essay 38 3,000 word 1-14Individual feedback through personal tutorials.
Individual presentation 251-14Individual feedback through personal tutorials.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Susan Amussen, An Ordered Society: Gender and Class in Early Modern England, (New York, 1988)

M.J. Braddick and J. Walter (eds.), Negotiating Power in Early Modern society: Order, Hierarchy and Subordination in Britain and Ireland (Cambridge, 2001)

Patricia Crawford, Blood, Bodies and Families in Early Modern England, (Harlow, 2004)

Patricia Crawford and Sara Mendelson, Women in Early Modern England, (Oxford, 1998)

Natalie Zemon Davis and Arlette Farge (eds), A History of Women: Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes, (Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1993)

Amy Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England, (Routledge, London, 1993)

Amanda Flather, Gender and Space in Early Modern England (Boydell, Woodbridge, 2007)

Anthony Fletcher, Gender, Sex and Subordination in Early Modern England (New Haven and London, 1995)

Anthony Fletcher, Growing Up in England: the experience of childhood, 1600-1914 (New Haven and London, 2008)

Henry French and Jonathan Barry (eds), Identity and Agency in England, 1500-1800, (Basingstoke, 2004)

Louise Fradenburg and Carla Freccero (eds), Premodern Sexualities, (New York and London, 1996)

Elizabeth Foyster, Manhood in Early Modern England: Honour, Sex and Marriage, (New York, 1999)

Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words and Sex in Early Modern London (OUP, 1996)

Steve Hindle, On the Parish? The Micro-politics of Poor Relief in Rural England c.1550-1750 (Oxford, 2004)

Olwen Hufton, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, Vol 1, 1500-1800, (London,1995)

P. King, Crime, Justice and Discretion in England 1740-1820 (Oxford, 2000)

Tim Meldrum, Domestic Service and Gender 1660-1750: Life and Work in the London Household (Pearson Education, Harlow, 2000)

Alexandra Shepard, Meanings of manhood in Early modern England (Oxford, 2000)

Robert Shoemaker, Gender in English Society 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres? (London, 1998)

M.R. Sommerville, Sex and Subjection: Attitudes to Women in Early Modern Society (London, 1995)

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Burney Collection of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Newspapers Other resources: Any other primary source material as provided.

Available as distance learning?