Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 2 hours seminars per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 5000 word essay  100%
Supplementary Assessment In the event of failure in the essay assignment, an essay on a new topic to be submitted.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of early modern texts

2. Demonstrate detailed awareness of the scinetific and cultural contexts of these texts.

3. Discuss critically the broad theoretical issues emerging from the relation between imaginative literature and scientific culture.

4. Synthesise conceptual acumen and detailed textual analysis in an extended piece of critical writing.


1. Introduction: cosmology and experiment from Copernicus to the Royal Society (cosmology, magnetism, experiment).
2. The Great Instauration: making sense of the new science (Bacon, Spratt, Burton, Donne Cowley, Behn).
3. Science Fiction, a new genre: From Imaginary voyages and Utopia to Moon Travel: Plutarch, Lucian, More, Kepler (selections); Godwin, Man in the Moone, Wilkins, A Discovery, Bacon, New Atlantis.
4. The Language of Science: Bacon, Spratt, Cowley.
5. Satire and Science: using at least two of the following texts'ren Jonson, Magnetick Lady, Thomas Shadwell, The Virtuoso, Margaret Cavendish, New Blazing World, Jonathan Swift, `Voyage to Laputa?.

Brief description

The earliest science fiction in English dates from the seventeenth century, the period which saw the emergence of modern science as we know it 'rhe so-called `Scientific Revolution?. Today we take for granted such things as experimental science and a heliocentric planetary system, so it is hard to imagine how rich and strange such novel theories appeared at that time. The writing of the time reflects the excitement, confusion and even disbelief occasioned by what John Donne called the `new philosophy?. The module will explore the imaginative impact of the new science, from the earliest works of science fiction (e.g. Godwin, The Man in the Moone and Bacon, New Atlantis) to satires on scientific institutions (e.g. Cavendish, Blazing World and Swift, Gulliver'r Travels).


This is a new option developed to extend the range and variety of modules on early modern writing. It will focus on seventeenth-century writing relating to science in order to explore the imaginative impact on the Scientific Revolution on writers of the period.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication in the form of essay Oral -through group discussions and seminar presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Developing own research skills, through independent reading/research. Developing time-management skills through preparation for seminars and by working to deadlines.
Information Technology Use of electronic resources
Personal Development and Career planning This group will be addressed in the module's emphasis on independent and group work, and its attempt to develop professional presentational skills in seminar presentations.
Problem solving By developing evaluative analysis and critical skills and by formulating and conducting an extended analytical argument.
Research skills Through independent research and by relating literary texts to historical contexts and by synthesing information in an extended evaluative argument
Subject Specific Skills Detailed critical analysis of literary texts and evaluation of broad intellectual concepts.
Team work Through group work in seminars


This module is at CQFW Level 7