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Unit information: Renaissance Literature: Texts and Contexts in 2015/16

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Unit name Renaissance Literature: Texts and Contexts
Unit code ENGLM0037
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lesel Dawson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will consider key Renaissance texts in relation to their wider historical context, exploring the complex ways in which literary works take up, critique, and are in dialogue with the cultural practices, debates, and technologies of their time. It will focus on selected current issues in the field of early modern studies. Example topics include: early modern ideas about interiority; literary and cultural geography and the ways in which identity is seen to shape, and be shaped by, encounters with space and place; ideas about sexuality, gender, and the body on stage and in medical texts; women’s writing; and the representation of violence and trauma on the Renaissance stage.

The unit aims to give a broadened experience of the range and variety within Renaissance literature and its comparable textual cultures, as well as providing an insight into the current shape of Renaissance studies as a discipline. Students will learn to read literary texts historically, developing a strong sense of the ways in which literature works within its broader contexts. They will also learn to write critically about literary texts, and to develop their skills in in close and interdisciplinary textual analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students should have:

1. A greater appreciation of the range and variety within Renaissance literature.

2. An advanced understanding of the key literary, historical and cultural developments of the early modern period.

3. A strong grasp of the ways in which Renaissance texts can be understood in relation to their wider historical and social contexts.

4. A sense of the current shape of Renaissance studies and some of the recent preoccupations of the field.

5. An ability to write critically about literary texts, and a familiarity with methodologies for reading literary texts historically.

6. A development of existing skills in research, analysis and independent thinking.

Teaching Information

8 x 2-hour seminar, 1 reading week, 11 Consultation Hours

Assessment Information

1 essay of 4,000 words which would assess the standards reached of the abilities and knowledge listed in learning objectives 1-5. Each student will also be required to give a 1000-word presentation in class.

Reading and References

The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. B: The Sixteenth Century and the Early Seventeenth Century, ed. Stephen Greenblatt (New York and London: W.W. Norton, 2012)

The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse, 1509-1659, intr. David Norbrook, ed. H.R. Woudhuysen (London: Penguin, 1992)

Michael Hattaway, Renaissance and Reformations: An Introduction to Early Modern English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)

Malcolm Hebron, Key Concepts in Renaissance Literature (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

The Renaissance Literature Handbook, ed. Susan Bruce and Rebecca Steinberger (London: Continuum, 2010)

Renaissance Literature and Culture, ed. Lisa Hopkins and Matthew Steggle (London: Continuum, 2006)