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Unit information: Literature 1550-1740 in 2020/21

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Unit name Literature 1550-1740
Unit code ENGL10043
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Publicover
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

1550 to 1740 saw an explosion of drama on the public stage, a vibrant poetic culture which included experiments in lyric, epic, and many other poetic forms, and innovative examples of prose fiction, travel-writing and life-writing. The period also witnessed religious upheavals, political, scientific and economic revolutions, and the establishment of England’s first colonies in the new world. It also saw the coming of age of the printing press, and an enormous surge in the production and consumption of literary manuscripts by ever more diverse readerships. This unit will introduce students to a selection of literature from this period, and reflect on its cultural and intellectual contexts. Writers may include: Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, John Donne, Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, Thomas Middleton, Ben Jonson, Mary Wroth, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Aphra Behn, William Wycherley, William Congreve, John Dryden, Mary Wortley Montagu, Anne Finch, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. read and analyse representative literature of the later 16th, 17th and early 18th centuries;
  2. understand some of the distinctive qualities of the literature of this period and the ways in which literary texts relate to their wider social and historical contexts;
  3. offer in-depth interpretations of some of the authors of the period;
  4. argue persuasively and with appropriate evidence in writing;
  5. read closely and analytically.

Teaching Information

Teaching will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including long- and short-form lectures, group discussion, research and writing activities, and peer dialogue. Students are expected to engage with the reading and participate fully with the weekly tasks and topics. Learning will be further supported through the opportunity for individual consultation.

Assessment Information

  • 1 x 1000 word essay (formative) [ILOs 1-5]
  • 1 x 2000 word essay (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (1602)

John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667)

Aphra Behn, The Rover (1677)

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1714)

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726)

Michael Hattaway, ed., A New Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture, 2 vols (Blackwell Publishing, 2010)