Module Identifier EN37620  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Elizabeth J Oakley-Brown  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 2,500 word essays100%
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

Reading Lists

** Should Be Purchased
Christopher Marlowe The Complete Plays Wordsworth
Edmund Spenser Shorter Poems: A Selection Wordsworth
Mary and Philip Sidney Psalms Carcanet
The fable of Ovid treting of Narcissus, Arthur Golding's 'Narcissus' and Mary Sidney's The Tragedie of Antonie will be supplied in photocopy (no copyright implications) and charged to students.
William Shakespeare Titus Andronicus New Arden or Everyman
William Shakespeare Venus and Adonis New Arden or Everyman
** Recommended Consultation
Brooks, Peter, 'Introduction', in (1993) Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative London and Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, pp. 1-27
Burt, Richard and John M. Archer (eds.) (1994) Enclosure Acts: Sexuality, Property, and Culture in Early Modern England Ithaca: Cornell University Press
Bynum, Caroline Walker, 'Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist's Perspective', Critical Inquiry 22/1, 1995, pp. 1-33
Greenblatt, Stephen (1980) Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare Chicago, Chicago University Press
Hadfield, Andrew (1994) Literature, Politics and National Identity Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Sawday, Jonathan (1995) The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture London and New York: Routledge
Scholz, Suzanne (2000) Body Narratives: Writing the Nation and Fashioning the Subject in Early Modern England Basingstoke: Macmillan
Waddington, Raymond, 'Rewriting the World, Rewriting the Body', in Arthur F. Kinney (ed.), (2000) The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1500-1600 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 287-309


This module is at CQFW Level 6