Module Catalogue 2022/23

SEL2201 : Renaissance Bodies

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Emma Whipday
  • Lecturer: Dr Kate De Rycker, Dr Ruth Connolly, Professor Jennifer Richards
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The Renaissance ‘rebirth’ of intellectual and artistic activity across Western Europe gave rise to new genres, onstage and on the page. From closet drama to Shakespearean tragedy, and from elite sonnets to popular printed prose, we will explore how writers aimed to stimulate the sensory experiences of their audiences. What did it feel like to be a body in Renaissance England? What did writers, readers, and audiences see, hear, touch, and smell? This module will trace how the rich and various genres of Renaissance literature imagine, represent, and affect the Renaissance body, in print, manuscript, and performance.

Outline Of Syllabus

Texts may change from year to year, but we will always have plays by Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights. Poetry will include works by female poets, such as Hester Pulter. Our prose choices will be taken usually from 'popular' print intended for a 'mass' audience.

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, social, and sensory 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/audiences 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, performance, and reception which shape these works.

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

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion144:0044:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture92:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading140:0040:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities104:0040:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00Weekly seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops51:005:00Assessment Preparation Workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:3010:00Watch parties (with live chat)
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity110:0010:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study122:0022:00N/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
Essay2A70EITHER an essay OR a creative portfolio (both 2,500 words)
Written exercise2M301,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-module assessment asks students to close read an extract from one of the module 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 asks them to think through the organisation of an argument based on close textual analysis. That prepares them to do better in the longer end-of-module assessment, which is an essay.

The ‘creative portfolio’ offers an alternative to the essay paper. Students may choose from one of the following three options:

1) Design a programme for an imagined production based on one of the course plays, with accompanying explanation of rationale

2) Design an exhibition guide for an imagined exhibition inspired by one of the course texts with accompanying explanation of rationale

3) Write a series of short blog posts relating to different perspectives on/contexts for the course texts, with accompanying explanation of rationale


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2022/23 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 2023/24 entry will be published here in early-April 2023. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.