Module Identifier EN38630  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Jayne Archer  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Mrs Carol M Marshall, Dr Jayne Archer, Mr Michael J Smith  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   10 x 2 hour seminars  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 2 x 3000 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 selected100%

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.
Aemilia Lanyer, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611).
John Donne, selected poems from Songs and Sonnets (c. 1593).
Rachel Speght, A Mouzell for Melastomus (1617)

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.


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.

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.

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
Cavendish, Margaret (March 2005) The Blazing World and Other Writings Penguin Classics [Imprint] 9780140433722
** Essential Reading
(2000.) Early modern women's writing :an anthology, 1550-1700 /editor, Paul Salzman. Oxford University Press 0192833464
Middleton, Thomas (1997.) The roaring girl /by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker; edited by Elizabeth Cook. A. & C. Black 0713640928
Shakespeare, William (Aug. 2006) The Taming of the Shrew Penguin Books, Limited 0141015519TRADEPAPER
Spenser, Edmund (1978) The faerie queene /Edmund Spenser ; edited by Thomas P. Roche with the assistance of C. Patrick O'Donnell. Penguin 0140422072PBK
** Supplementary Text
(2005.) Early modern women's manuscript poetry /edited by Jill Seal Millman & Gillian Wright. Manchester University Press 0719069173PBK
(1995.) Renaissance woman :a sourcebook : constructions of femininity in England /edited by Kate Aughterson. Routledge 0415120462
Donne, John (Feb. 1994) The Complete English Poems Everyman 0460874411TRADEPAPER
** Recommended Background
(2000.) "This double voice";gendered writing in early modern England /edited by Danielle Clarke and Elizabeth Clarke. Macmillan 0333677455HBK
(c2004.) Early modern women's manuscript writing :selected papers from the Trinity/Trent colloquium /edited by Victoria E. Burke, Jonathan Gibson. Ashgate 0754604691HBK
(1998.) Maids and mistresses, cousins and queens :women's alliances in early modern England /edited by Susan Frye and Karen Robertson. Oxford University Press 0195117352PAPER
(c1991.) Reading Mary Wroth :representing alternatives in early modern England /edited by Naomi J. Miller and Gary Waller. University of Tennessee Press 087049709XHARDALKPAPER
(2005.) Reconceiving the Renaissance :a critical reader /Ewan Fernie ... [et al.]. Oxford University Press 0199265577PBK
(1985.) Silent but for the word : Tudor women as patrons, translators and writers of religious works /edited by Margaret Patterson Hannay. Kent State University Press 087338315X
(1986.) Women in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance :literary and historical perspectives /edited, with an introduction, by Mary Beth Rose. Syracuse University Press 0815623526
Beilin, Elaine V. (c1987.) Redeeming Eve :women writers of the English Renaissance /Elaine V. Beilin. Princeton University Press 0691067155
Chalmers, Hero. (2004.) Royalist women writers, 1650-1689 /Hero Chalmers. Clarendon Press 0199273278CASED
Dowd, Michelle M. (April 2007) Genre and Women's Life Writing in Early Modern England Ashgate Publishing, Limited 9780754654261
Ezell, Margaret J. M. (1987.) The patriarch's wife : literary evidence and the history of the family /Margaret J.M. Ezell. University of North Carolina Press 0807817414
Ezell, Margaret J. M. (c1993.) Writing women's literary history /Margaret J. M. Ezell. Johns Hopkins University Press 0801844320ACIDFREEPAPER
Jardine, Lisa. (1983.) Still harping on daughters :women and drama in the age of Shakespeare /Lisa Jardine. Harvester Wheatsheaf 0710804369
Krontiris, Tina (1992.) Oppositional voices :women as writers and translators of literature in the English Renaissance /Tina Krontiris. Routledge 0415063299
Mendelson, Sara Heller (1987.) The mental world of Stuart women :three studies /Sara Heller Mendelson. Harvester 0710806957
Mendelson, Sara Heller (1998) Women in early modern England, 1550-1720 /Sara Mendelson and Patricia Crawford. Clarendon Press 019820812XPBK
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish (1999.) Paper bodies :a Margaret Cavendish reader /Margaret Cavendish ; edited by Sylvia Bowerbank and Sara Mendelson. BRAD 155111173X
Rose, Mary Beth. (2002.) Gender and heroism in early modern English literature /Mary Beth Rose. University of Chicago Press 0226725723
Schleiner, Louise. (c1994.) Tudor and Stuart women writers /by Louise Schleiner ; with translations from Latin by Connie McQuillen, from Greek by Lynn E. Roller. Indiana University Press 0253208866PBK
Waller, Gary (Sept. 1993) The Sidney Family Romance:Mary Wroth, William Herbert and the Early Modern Construction of Gender Wayne State University Press 0814324363CLOTHTEXT


This module is at CQFW Level 6