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Module QXE-3107:
EM Lit: Sex, Sects and Scandal

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Media

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Michael Durrant

Overall aims and purpose

Early Modern Literature offers the opportunity to study a diverse range of writings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries at an advanced level. Building upon the encounters with plays, poetry and prose from the reigns of Henry VIII to those of the later Stuarts which the student has encountered in a variety of modules in the first and second years, this module focuses upon questions of authorship and literary production, audience and reception and engages with dominant thematic interests of social change, gender, sexuality, heroism, violence and the body.

Course content


  1. CITIZEN NARRATIVES: Deloney - Jack of Newbury; Dekker - The Shoemaker’s Holiday
  2. [SELF-]GOVERNMENT: Marlowe: Edward II; Bacon: ‘Of Seditions and Troubles’, ‘Of Ambition’, ‘Of Followers and Friends’
  3. INTIMACY: Gascoigne: The Adventures of Master F.J.; Donne – ‘Sappho to Philaenis’; Linche – ‘The last so sweet…’; Barnes – ‘Jove for Europa’s love…’
  4. REVENGE – Marston: The Malcontent; Bacon ‘Of Revenge’
  5. COMEDY I: Jonson: Bartholomew Fair; Bacon - ‘Of Simulation and Dissimulation’
  6. ROMANCE: Shakespeare Cymbeline; G.B.A.F. A discovery of the great subtiltie (1591)
  7. COMEDY II: Beaumont: The Knight of the Burning Pestle;
  8. 17c POETICS: Henry Vaughan; Robert Herrick; Lucy Hutchinson.
  9. HEROISM: Milton -Samson Agonistes
  10. RESTORATION SOCIETY: Etherege: The Man of Mode; Rochester Poems
  11. EARLY FICTION & DEBATE: Eliz Heywood: Fantomina; Astell: Some Reflections; Katherine Phillips Poems
  12. Revision Week

Assessment Criteria


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


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 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

Learning outcomes

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
2,500 word essay 2 50
2,500 word Essay 1 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • Conceptual skills developed by demonstration and discussion. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.2; 3.3.14; 3.3.17; 3.3.18; 3.3.19).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to analyse texts, using appropriate critical terminology. ( English Benchmark Statement 3.1.8; 3.2.1; 3.2.6; 3.3.12).


Talis Reading list

Reading list


Primary Texts: • Norton Anthology, vols. B & C • David Bevington et al (eds.), English Renaissance Drama (New York: Norton, 2002) • Paul Salzman (ed.), An Anthology of Elizabethan Prose Fiction (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1987) • Shakespeare Cymbeline (any edition) • John Milton Samson Agonistes (any edition) • Library Database: Early English Books Online (EEBO) • Handouts (to be distributed by seminar tutor)

Secondary Texts: A.R. Braunmiller et al (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama (Cambridge: CUP, 2003). T.N. Corns, A History of Seventeenth-Century English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007). William M. Hamlin, Tragedy and Scepticism in Shakespeare’s England (Cambridge: CUP, 2005). Michael Hattaway (ed.), A Companion to English Renaissance Literature and Culture (Hoboken: Wiley, 2008). Naomi Conn Liebler (ed.), Early Modern Prose Fiction (London: Routledge, 2007). David Loewenstein et al (eds.), The Cambridge History of Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 2002). Randall Martin, Women Writers in Renaissance England (London: Longman, 1997). Steve Mentz, Romance for sale in Early Modern England (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006). Anita Pacheco (ed.), A Companion to Early Modern Women’s Writing (Oxford: Blackwells, 2002). Jason Scott-Warren, Early Modern English Literature (Cambridge: CUP, 2005). Gary Waller, English Poetry of the Sixteenth Century (London: Longman, 1993

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: