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Module QXE-2003:
Jonson to Johnson

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Michael Durrant

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To extend students' knowledge of a variety of texts in English from the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries
  2. To equip students with the necessary critical skills to examine literature in its historical and cultural contexts
  3. To familiarise students with the major debates concerning politics, religion and identity in the period
  4. To introduce students to the importance of new genres, the city, gender, readership and performance when studying early modern literature
  5. To further students' skills in analysis, research, and both written and oral presentation

Course content

This module offers you the opportunity to explore English literary writing from the reign of James I at the opening of the seventeenth century to the middle of the Georgian age in the eighteenth century. The module will begin by introducing you to the theatre of the later Shakespeare, Jonson and their contemporaries and to the complex poetic worlds of John Donne, George Herbert and Andrew Marvell, for example. The period witnessed an enormous growth in prose writing in the areas of history, science, utopianism and biography all of which figure in this module. The module guides you through the period of the English Republic and the Restoration of the later Stuart monarchs. As the semester unfolds, you will have the opportunity to read a selection of women’s writing, of erotic and political verse of the period, to explore the energetic comedies performed to London audiences and to explore some early examples of English prose fiction written by Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding.

Assessment Criteria


Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas adeptly • Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired • Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant • Shows analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of relevant reading • Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. • A few minor errors here and there. • Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium • Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps

Typically, work graded C- to C+ (or 50 to 59) will show many of the following qualities: • Discusses ideas, but without much confidence • A respectable effort but not showing any unusual talent; a few flashes of originality here and there • Makes reference to the subject in question, but some important matters not mentioned • Fairly clear thought on most occasions, and the arguments relevant on the whole • Evidence of having read some works associated with the field in question • Quite accurate expression, though the points may sometimes be presented clumsily • Signs of conscientious work deserve a higher position within the class • In creative work: not having quite mastered the requirements of the medium
• Evidence of planning in the answers, but a lack of coherence at times; undisciplined and unsure at times


Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities:

• Discusses ideas with confidence and precision • Demonstrates maturity and sophistication • Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant • Shows independent, analytical and clear thought • Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading • Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language • Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought • In creative work: displays considerable originality • Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production


Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: • Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas • Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner • Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers • Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic • Little evidence of background reading • Some uncertainty over language and syntax • Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative • In creative work: superficial • Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium

Learning outcomes

  1. An awareness of the changing dynamics of genre during one of the most fertile period of English literary writing

  2. The ability to understand and analyse selected texts from c. 1620 to c. 1750

  3. An awareness of the interrelationships of text, context, circumstances of production, literary tradition and ideology

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
1000 word literature review 25
1000 close reading 25
Essay 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study 156

2 hour lectures per week for 11 weeks


1 hour per week for 11 weeks

Study group 11

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting


Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: