Module Identifier EN38630  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Jayne Archer  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Mrs Carol M Marshall, Dr Jayne Archer  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 3000 word essays50%
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 selected50%

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of writing by and about women in the period 1550-1666.

2. Show awareness of the main theoretical issues concerning gender difference and writing in the period 1550-1666

3. Analyze critically literary and non-literary texts by men and women

4. Situate literary and non-literary texts within their historical moment, and identify the influence of contemporary debates in politics and religion


Outline Programme:

Week 1: Introduction: Women and Writing in Renaissance England.
Extracts from books on medicine, theology, law, and political theory.

Week 2: Royal Women.
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) ? selected speeches, poems, letters, and prayers.

Week 3: Martial Women.
Edmund Spenser, Book 3, The Faerie Queene (c. 1596).

Week 4: Women and the City.
Isabella Whitney, `The Last Will and Testament' (1573).
Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton, The Roaring Girl (c1607-1610).

Week 5: Women and Speech.
William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew (1594).

Week 6: Women and the querelle des femmes.
Rachel Speght, A Mouzell for Melastomus (1617).
Aemilia Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611).
John Donne, selected poems from Songs and Sonnets (c. 1593).

Week 7: Women and Romance.
Mary Wroth, Pamphilia to Amphilanthus (1621).
Selections from Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella (1591).

Week 8: Women and Science.
Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World (1666).

Week 9: Women and the Literary Marketplace.
Hester Pulter, 'Poems Breathed Forth by the Noble Hadassa' (1640-1660s).
Katherine Philips (1632-1664), selected poems.

Week 10: Did Englishwomen have a Renaissance?
Revision seminar, dicussing the themes raised in the module and selected extracts from feminist criticism.

Brief description

This module will focus on writing by and about women of the English Renaissance (1550-1666), and will explore the religious, political, and cultural issues relevant to the time.


In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf asked 'why women did not write poetry in the Elizabethan age'. Unable to find any examples of Elizabethan women writers, Woolf invented the imaginary 'Judith Shakespeare', who might have enjoyed a career as successful as that of her brother William, had she only been born a man. In fact, many women wrote during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including Queen Elizabeth I herself.

This module will explore some of the writings by and about Renaissance women, and will examine a range of genres, from poems, drama, prose, and fiction, to prophecies, letters, polemics, and philosophy. Each week, we'll focus on a particular woman writer or on a male-authored work in which the representation of women is of central importance. The texts will be read within the contexts of the life and social milieu of the author, her or his political and religious affiliations, and the historical moment. Wherever possible, writings by women will be set in 'conversation' with male-authored works of the same period or genre, thus enabling an assessment of the role of gender difference in helping shape literary and authorial identity in Renaissance England.

Module Skills

Problem_solving formulating and developing an extended argument  
Research skills developing independent study  
Communication written communication through the production of essays oral communication in the form of seminar discussions and presentations (not assessed)  
Improving own Learning and Performance developing own research skills, management of time  
Team work presentations will be give by teams of two or three  
Information Technology use of electronic resources (EEBO); production of written work  
Subject Specific Skills Detailed analysis of literary and cultural texts and evaluation of broad intellectual concepts  

Reading Lists

** General Text
Elizabeth (2002.) Elizabeth I :collected works /edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller and Mary Beth Rose. University of Chicago Press 0226504646
** Essential Reading
Cavendish (2005) The Blazing World and Other Writings Penguin Books 0140433724
Shakespeare, William (1981) The Taming of the Shrew The Arden Shakespeare. 1903436109
Spenser, Edmund (1988) The Faerie Queene Penguin Books 0140422072
** Recommended Background
Hunter, John, and Payne, Michael, eds (2002) Blackwell Anthology of Renaissance Literature Blackwell Publishers 0631198989


This module is at CQFW Level 6