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SEL2201 : Reading the Renaissance

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The ‘Renaissance’ is marked by a general surge of different kinds of artistic and intellectual activity in Western Europe. In England, for example, a new and unique form of theatre developed in London. But there were similar ‘rebirths’ in all sorts of poetry, for example the long narrative epic and the much shorter lyric genres. In this course, we try to give you a glimpse of the richness and variety of the writing of the period between the mid-sixteenth and the mid-seventeenth century. There is a lot of Shakespeare and his fellow playwrights, but we will also read some key moments in English Renaissance epic (extracts not the whole poem!); and we will explore some of the vast realm of the lyric.

Outline Of Syllabus

Texts may change from year to year, but we will always have some tragedies and comedies by Shakespeare, and by two or three other playwrights. Epic is most likely to be represented by book 1 of Spenser’s Faery Queen and/or by two or three books of Milton’s Paradise Lost. The lyric selection will vary diversely.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion144:0044:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study130:0030:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The Learning Outcomes are intended to illustrate that texts in this period are read in dialogue with one another, and are intended to encourage discussion, analysis and debate among their readers. By co-teaching lectures and by examining texts comparatively, that dialogue is embedded into the course structure.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A803,000 words
Written exercise1M201,000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-module assessment requires students to select a pithy quasi-proverbial quotation (‘commonplace’) from one of the set-texts and to show how it illuminates some aspect of that text. It helps students to use their close-reading and analytic-organisational skills and prepares them to do better in the longer end-of-module assessment, which is a traditional take-home paper.

Reading Lists