Literature and Life: c. 1400-1700 - EN692

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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5 30 (15) DR T Lawrence




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This curriculum offers a survey of medieval and early modern literature from 1400 to 1700. Looking at a wide range of forms including poetry, prose and drama, students will consider the relationship between medieval and early modern life experience and the literary works it produced. We will consider how important debates surrounding political, social, gender and religious identity inflect and are reflected in the literature of the period, including works by writers such as Hoccleve, Donne, Lanyer and their contemporaries. Students will explore the boundaries of the literary canon, encountering pamphlets, petitions, sermons and conduct books, for example and consider the ways in which literary and non-literary texts both mirror and influence culture and society.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

In addition, there will be at least one study-trip to, for example, Canterbury Cathedral archives, the British Library or Penshurst.

Method of assessment

50% coursework, 50% examination.

Seminar Performance (10%)
Two Essays (2,500 words each) (40%)
Examination (3 hours) (50%)

Indicative reading

Primary sources:
Thomas Hoccleve, selected poetry
Thomas More, Utopia (1516)
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1590)
John Donne, selected poetry and prose
Aemilia Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611)
John Milton, Paradise Lost (1674)

Most texts will be provided in a Module Handbook; other texts will be in relevant published anthologies of primary material (such as Black, Conolly, Flint and el, (2010), The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Volume 2: The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century. Toronto: Broadview Press.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. read and respond critically to the works of writers of the medieval and early modern period
2. consider and analyse the concept of the literary in relation to life in this period, in terms of theatrical, political, cultural and social contexts
3. develop a critical understanding of the development of literature in the medieval and early modern period
4. become conversant with current critical approaches and debates to the literature

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. develop their abilities to analyse texts critically and make comparisons across a range of reading
2. develop their command of written and spoken English and their abilities to articulate coherent critical arguments
3. understand and interrogate various critical approaches and the theoretical assumptions that underpin these approaches
4. develop their abilities to carry out independent research
5. develop their presentational skills to present an argument orally, defend that argument, and use responses to refine ideas.

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