Module Details

LT201-5-FY-CO: Early Modern Literature

Year: 2016/17
Department: Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Essex credit: 30
ECTS credit: 15
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: Yes
Outside Option: Yes

Supervisor: Professor John Gillies
Teaching Staff: Professor John Gillies, Dr Patricia Gillies, Dr Deirdre Serjeantson
Contact details: LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

This module is offered as an introduction to English (and European) literature of the fifteenth through to the late seventeenth centuries, laying the groundwork for more specialised study. Given the length of the period, the course will usually focus on a selection of texts, giving differential weight to particular centuries. However, one of the first tasks of the course will always be to open up discussion and debate on the usefulness or otherwise of the term 'early modern', as well as more traditional terminologies such as 'medieval' and 'Renaissance'. The course then seeks to introduce students to literature in which, at the beginnings of modernity, we can glimpse some cultural structures and behavioural forms that are prefigurations of our own. But much attention will also be paid to the considerable and exciting 'otherness' of many of the worlds represented by the chosen texts, not least in the literary forms in which they are written, many of which have passed out of usage or have been changed beyond recognition with the passage of time. The texts are therefore read in the context of profound and on-going cultural change, in an attempt to understand the place in them of such things as established court cultures and the growth of cities; trade and travel; banking and usury; war, plague, religious observances and sexual mores; as well as, in a more strictly literary context, narrative conventions, formal patterning, and the craft of poetry. Shakespeare will always feature on this course. Other writers usually present include Spenser, Donne, and Milton.

Learning and Teaching Methods

Weekly lecture (one hour) and a weekly class (of one hour), plus panel discussions and revision in the summer term.


50 per cent Coursework Mark, 50 per cent Exam Mark


5% participation mark + 15% Essay 1 + 30% Essay 2

Other details

Essay 1 will have 2000 words; Essay 2 will have 2500- 3000 words

Exam Duration and Period

3:00 during Summer Examination period.

Other information

Compulsory for:
BA English and European Literature students


  • Available from the library, but please also see the more detailed reading list on the Moodle website for this module

Further information