Module Catalogue 2016/17

SEL2201 : Reading the Renaissance

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Prof. Michael Pincombe
  • Lecturer: Dr Ruth Connolly, Prof. Jennifer Richards
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
SEL1003Introduction to Literary Studies 1
SEL1004Introduction to Literary Studies II
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



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.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

1) An understanding of the distinctive aspects of early modern literature.

2) An ability to situate these texts in their intellectual and social contexts.

3) An ability to read texts comparatively and in the context of their sources.

4) An awareness of how these texts are intended to initiate a dialogue between writers and readers and a capacity critically to explore and analyse that dialogue.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1) Engage critically with a wide range of Renaissance genres.

2) Understand the processes of composition which underlie these works.

3) Construct their own version of one of these genres (the commonplace book).

4) Communicate their arguments effectively both orally and in written forms.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Present
    • Data Synthesis : Present
    • Active Learning : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Present
  • Self Management
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Initiative : Present
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
      • Peer Assessment Review : Present

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.

Reading Lists

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. It may be that a student will only fail one component and that component would be the only one to be repeated.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.