Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Early Modern France - MEMS8050

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


France is the setting and inspiration for many plays first written and performed for London's professional theatres, 1576-1642. Whether in the history cycles that depicted Anglo-French diplomacy and war, or in the comedies and tragedies that revealed the ebb and flow of life in England’s near-neighbour, France as a site and space held a vivid place in the English imagination. This module is oriented around trans-national exchange (of ideas, people, goods, services) in early modern plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, and other dramatists. France, and Paris in particular, will be read as a site of political unrest and religious fervour and debate, with the plays analysed in parallel to historical studies of the French Wars of Religion and networks of Anglo-French exchange during this period. Analysing the literary and historical contexts to these plays, the module will encourage students to think deeply about the dramatists’ creative engagement with issues such as national and religious identity, trans-national intellectual exchange, and the politics of difference.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Private study hours: 278
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Source analysis 2,000 words 25%
Essay 4,000 words 75%

Reassessment methods
100% coursework (4,000 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

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 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the depiction of early modern France in stage plays written by Marlowe, Shakespeare and others, informed by a deep understanding of modern scholarship on stage conventions and performance practices.
2 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the historic and political context of the dramatists' engagement with French history, culture, and locations--including detailed knowledge of the European Reformation, the French Wars of Religion, and Anglo-French diplomacy—to identify lacunae in existing criticism and to offer new insights.
3 Convey understanding of the methodological frameworks and techniques applicable to the study of early modern dramatic texts, including the ability to evaluate different critical modes;
4 Express a critical awareness of the scholarly discourses and debates surrounding Anglo-French exchange and relations in the period, and how they relate to stage plays, developing the ability to critically assess methodologies and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

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

1 Apply, evaluate and critique methodologies in the study of literary texts and incorporate these in their own research;
2 Demonstrate a conceptual and critical engagement with current research in the discipline;
3 Convey new or complex ideas in written or oral form with greater clarity;
4 Take responsibility for an independent research project, including identifying appropriate primary material and an appropriate question, and undertaking self-directed research and learning to bring the project to completion


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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