Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 2,500 word essays  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module, the student should typically be able to:

1. demonstrate an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the texts studied on the module;

2. demonstrate the ability to analyse the texts coherently in terms of the appropriate critical approaches offered on the module;

3. produce informed and well-argued written work that seeks to discuss the texts with reference to their historical and/or cultural contexts and relevant theoretical and/or critical debates.


Designed to extend the knowledge and develop the critical practices offered in Part One and the Part Two core course on medieval and renaissance writing, this module aims to encourage students to read Elizabethan texts in their historical and cultural contexts and to provide an understanding of current theories of the body.

Brief description

The body is a cultural concept constructed through various media, from visual art to literary texts. In the specific historical and cultural context of Elizabethan England representations of the body have a significant role. Most obviously, in the ideological shifts brought about by the Reformation and the accession of Elizabeth I, the body is used to show cultural difference by promoting images of the Protestant Queen. At the same time, Catholic icons of Christ are suppressed. Indeed, in this particular period of change, the politics of religion and nationhood, sex and gender and 'self' and 'other' are all played out on and through the human form.
This option closely examines a range of texts produced from 1558-1603 - narrative poetry, plays, psalms and sonnets - and looks at ways in which the discursive site of the body is used to construct identity in Elizabethan England.


_Module Outline and Set Texts

_Week 1: Body Narratives. What is a/the body?
'Introduction' in Susanne Scholz, Body Narratives: Writing the Nation and Fashioning the Subject in Early Modern England, Basingstoke, Macmillan, 2000, pp. 1-12

_Week 2: England's Protestant Body
Arthur Golding: The myth of Narcissus from The XV. Bookes of P.Ovidius Naso, entitled Metamorphosis; Anon.: The fable of Ovid treting of Narcissus

_Week 3: Figuring Otherness
Marlowe: The Massacre at Paris

_Week 4: The Body Enclosed
Spenser: Amoretti

_Week 5: Mid-term revision session

_Week 6: Engendering Bodies
Mary Sidney: The Tragedie of Antonie

_Week 7: The Erotic Body
Shakespeare: Venus and Adonis

_Week 8: The Ascetic Body
Philip and Mary Sidney: Psalmes

_Week 9: Death and Dismemberment
Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus

_Week 10: End of term revision session


This module is at CQFW Level 6