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EN228 Seventeenth Century: The First Modern Age of English Literature

This module is running in 2019/20.

Module credits: 30 CATs

From 2019/20, there will be two new module codes:
Intermediate Year: EN2B5
Final Year: EN3B5
*Please ensure that you register for the correct code for your year of study*

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 will be organised into four thematic areas: Place, Time, Politics, and Difference. Each thematic unit is structured chronologically and we may address topics like: early modern understandings of the relationship between place, memory, and identity; literary representations of different conceptions of time; 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 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

1 x 1hr lecture - Monday 1:00-2:00. R1.03

1 x 1hr seminar - Monday 3:00-4:00; Thursday 10:00 - 11:00.

Pathway Information

This module is a Pathway approved Option for the English Pathway and one of the Distributional Requirements options for the Theory, World, and North American Pathways.


EN228 Syllabus

Reading List

The module reading list for essential primary sources and recommended secondary sources can be found on Tallis Aspire here.

We will read the primary texts in the following editions and anthologies, which you should purchase:

  • The Broadview Anthology of Seventeenth-Century Verse and Prose eds. Joseph Black, Alan Rudrum, and Holly Faith Nelson (Broadview, 2000).
  • 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) - nb. make sure you get the paperback edition!
  • Three Restoration Comedies ed. Galmini Salgado (Penguin, 1986).
  • Thomas Shadwell, The Virtuoso ed. Marjorie Hope Nicholson (Regents Restoration Drama, 1966).

It will be helpful for you to have a good grasp of seventeenth-century history on this module. If you wish to do some preparatory reading in this area over the summer, we continue to recommend Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed (Penguin, 1997) as an accessible narrative of the period from 1603 to 1688.

If you want to do some reading on the four thematic units of the module, we recommend the following books. These are not all about the seventeenth century but they contain information that provides helpful conceptual grounding in the themes we will be addressing.

  • Russel T. Tally Jnr., Spatiality (Routledge, 2012), Introduction, Chapters 1 (esp. p. 17-30) and 2.
  • Russel West-Pavlov, Temporalities (Routledge, 2013), Introduction, Chapters 1 and 2.
  • The Varieties of British Political Thought, 1500-1800 ed. J.G.A. Pocock, Gordon J. Schochet and Lois G. Schwoerer (Cambridge, 1993), chs. 3, 4, 5, and 6.
  • Mark Currie, Difference (Routledge, 2004), Introduction and Chapters 4 and 5.


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