Wales, Renaissance & Europe
Wales and Europe in the Renaissance: Image, Language, Identity & the Role of the Gentry, c.1450-1630 2022-23
School Of History, Law And Social Sciences
Module - Semester 2
The Renaissance was a phenomenon which inspired a vibrant period of innovation in human achievement. It transformed art, architecture, education and fashion, and exerted considerable influences on aspects of society as diverse as politics and religion, science and literature. However, its impact, chronology, origins, definition and reach remain hotly contested amongst historians.
The Renaissance provides a focus for assessing degrees of continuity and change, innovation and tradition across early modern Europe. This module examines the cultural identity of Wales across the late-fifteenth, sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries, in the broader context of European experiences. A commonplace view is that Wales saw only a ‘limited’ Renaissance. A number of themes and case studies will be explored to assess the validity of this claim. What conditions needed to be in place in order for Renaissance culture to thrive? How did ideas, styles and trends permeate into Wales from continental Europe and via England? Did the Renaissance change Wales – its society, politics, religion, economy, culture and built environments? Was there anything distinctive about the ‘Welsh Renaissance’? To what extent did the gentry support Renaissance culture and how did it impact upon how they presented their image and identity? These issues are only beginning to be explored by historians and this module provides an exciting opportunity to make fresh contributions towards the debate.
The module is set up to encourage an analytical approach towards the study of history, providing a framework in which to explore a number of contested historiographical issues, questions and debates. The module will promote knowledge and understanding of the period c.1450-1630, including relationships between Wales and other parts of Europe. The multifaceted nature and influence of the Renaissance encourages an interdisciplinary approach; exploring a diverse range of subjects including literature, art, architecture, education, cartography, poetry, fashion, history, politics and drama. The module will include continuous opportunities for engagement with a range of primary source materials.
Each week we will be focusing on a different topic. At the beginning of the module we will discuss the European context and the historiography relating to origins of the Renaissance in Italy, before moving on to analyse England in the sixteenth century. These early sessions will provide a framework for a number of thematic sessions focusing on Wales during the early modern period.
Week 1 - Introduction: key themes and issues
Week 2 - Italian Renaissance: origins and features
Week 3 - ‘European Renaissance’: the transmission and translation of ideas
Week 4 - England in the sixteenth century: court, culture and civility
Week 5 - Wales and the wider world, c.1400-1650
Week 6 - Reading Week
Week 7 - The printing press and the rise of the vernacular: European and English perspectives
Week 8 - Language and Literature; Renaissance and Religion – in early modern Wales
Week 9 - What was Wales? Views of Wales and the Welsh c.1500-1650
Week 10 - The Welsh gentry: images of status, honour and authority?
Week 11 - An ‘archaeology’ of early modern Wales: visual, material and architectural culture
Week 12 - Conclusions and Oral Presentations
• Threshold students (D- to D+) will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge and understanding of at least parts of the module, and will make partly-successful attempts to develop skills which correlate with the requirements of History undergraduate work. The structure of the essay, coursework task and presentation may be rather opaque, and the discussion ambiguous, lacking in clarity and articulacy at times. The essay/coursework task/presentation may be incomplete, or include one or more elements which lack focus on core themes and issues, or address the problems/questions with imprecision. The essay/coursework task/presentation may display cursory intellectual engagement and some confusion of source material. Little attempt is made to engage with secondary or primary evidence. The essay/coursework task/presentation may not be correctly formatted. The essay/coursework task/presentation may have an unclear structure and may contain insufficient well-presented, well-chosen material.
• Good students (C- to C+) will show evidence of solid reading and understanding across the essay/coursework task/presentation, but parts of their work will still remain superficial; cover most of the important aspects of the field, but lack depth or accuracy; have an argument, but only employ limited evidence. There will be lack of engagement with source materials. The essay/coursework task/presentation may include one or more elements which lack a precise focus on core themes and issues, or address the problems/questions with sketchiness. Tasks may demonstrate some intellectual engagement with relevant primary and secondary evidence. Lines of argument may not be as clear as they could have been. The tasks generally conform to the correct format but may display anomalies. The essay/coursework task/presentation may have an unclear structure. The essay/coursework task/presentation contains some well-presented, well-chosen material.
• Good students (B- to B+) will show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria outlined in the paragraph above, and will exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical evidence and historiographical controversies. Ideas and arguments will be communicated effectively in the essay/coursework task/presentation. The essay/coursework task/presentation will always retain a precise focus on the core themes and issues, and address the problems/questions with accurate and relevant material. Tasks will demonstrate good intellectual engagement with relevant primary and secondary evidence. Arguments are presented and almost all lines of argument are supported and illustrated with appropriate evidence. The tasks conform to the correct format and are mostly presented in an accurate fashion, with some engaging elements. The essay/coursework task/presentation will have a clear structure. The essay/coursework task/presentation contain material which is mostly well-presented and well-chosen.
• Excellent students (A- and above) will show depth of achievement across the criteria outlined above, combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge, sophistication and/or subtlety of analysis across the essay/coursework task/presentation. Work will exhibit a sophisticated engagement with core themes and issues, and address the problems/questions with reference to an impressive selection of illuminating material. Tasks will demonstrate in depth and detailed intellectual engagement with relevant primary and secondary evidence. Coherent and convincing arguments are presented, which are comprehensively supported with appropriate evidence. All of the tasks conform to the correct format and are presented in an accurate and engaging fashion. The essay/coursework task/presentation will have a clear structure. The essay/coursework task/presentation contains material which is always well-presented and well-chosen.
- Assimilate and assess knowledge, research and interpretation from a range of disciplinary perspectives (e.g. art, literature, architecture) and apply them to the study of the module
- Develop a better understanding of cultural heritage sites in north Wales
- Develop a deeper understanding of the history and culture of Wales during the period c.1450 -1630 through in-depth engagement with primary and secondary sources
- Enhanced experience of communicating and presenting arguments, ideas and knowledge in a range of formats
- Learn about Wales’ shared historical and cultural connections with other parts of Europe
- Learn how to employ evidence from a variety of sources to build clear and convincing arguments relating to the role and impact of Renaissance culture in Wales
- Learn how to interpret, analyse and contextualise a range of primary sources from the 16th and 17th centuries (including textual, visual and material culture)
- Learn how to judge between and challenge different arguments and interpretations within the historiography, including viewpoints which are contested, controversial or politically informed
3,000 word essay from a list of questions provided in the module handbook
Historiographical exercise. For this task you will be required to critically analyse an extract of secondary literature relating to the module. Extracts will be provided.
Oral Presentation. For this task you will be asked to design and deliver a c.10 minute oral presentation (with PowerPoint slides) on a subject connected to the module. Presentations will be delivered at a symposium in Week 12.