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EN2B5/EN3B5 Seventeenth Century Literature

This module is not currently running.

Module credits: 30 CATS

Module Outline

This module examines the writing produced during one of the most exciting periods of English history. During the seventeenth century there were two revolutions and huge constitutional changes. It witnessed a significant widening of political and literary classes. On this module we will read a variety of canonical and non-canonical writing from 1603 to 1688 with the aim of finding out how works produced in different historical conditions commented on and intervened in these major ideological and intellectual upheavals.

The module in 2020-21 will be structured chronologically. Topics we may address could include: early modern understandings of the relationship between place, memory, and identity; the writing of revolutionary political change and apocalypticism; and the increase in women's authorship. Each week, we will look at primary texts in light of some contextual further reading from the period (a translation of a piece of political theory by Machiavelli, say, or some writing on early modern poetics). There will also be selected secondary readings each week to help you locate your own critical investigations within the exciting field of seventeenth-century studies.

Lecture and Seminar Times - TBC


EN228 Syllabus

Reading List (2020-21)

All the reading in 2020-21 will be available electronically via e-books, scans or online. Please look at the 2020-21 Syllabus for links to recommended electronic editions. You are therefore not required to purchase any books. But if you would like to buy any hard copies we recommend the following.

  • The Broadview Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Verse and Prose eds. Joseph Black, Alan Rudrum, and Holly Faith Nelson (Broadview, 2000) - we've used this anthology on the module in the past and it includes many of the primary readings.
  • Oroonoko, The Rover, and other works ed. Janet Todd (Penguin, 2003).
  • Three Seventeenth-Century Plays on Women and Performance eds. Sophie Tomlinson, Hero Chalmers, and Julie Sanders (Manchester, 2006) - in Week 7 we will read Shirley's The Bird in a Cage in a pdf text from EEBO but if you would like a modern edition the play is included in this anthology.
  • Three Restoration Comedies ed. Galmini Salgado (Penguin, 1986).
  • Margaret Cavendish, The Blazing World and Other Writings (Penguin, 1992).

It will be helpful for you to have a good grasp of seventeenth-century history on this module. There are several histories of the period available but the following are accessible as e-books through the Warwick library catalogue:


EN228 Assessment

Objectives and outcomes

By the end of this module you should have:

  • knowledge of seventeenth-century literature from a variety of genres (e.g. public drama, masque, verse satire, essays).

  • knowledge of the different written mediums used by writers in the period and the contexts where their work was seen or read.

  • understanding of how and why different seventeenth-century writers engaged with their particular historical (e.g. political, religious and theological, social or literary) contexts.

  • developed skills in interpreting literary texts in their historical context.
  • understanding of key arguments from secondary criticism that are relevant to the period’s literature.

C17 Ranters

Chas 1 and family

Inigo Jones masque costume


Dr John West

Module Tutors:

Dr Natalya Din-Kariuki

Dr John West