Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Assessed Essay 2

Essay assignment extra sessions.


We share your horror at some of the low marks given in the first assessment.

One of the things we were horrified at was bad proof-reading, which may be a time problem. We can take off two marks for that but it will tend to depress you mark because the overall impression is just so bad. I think there is a case to be made that if you don’t use grammar properly you can’t argue at the very subtle level that we require. And don’t even think about a good mark if you get the name of the characters wrong, or don’t underline titles, or can’t use the apostrophe. I am sure you share my feeling that people on an English degree course at Warwick just have to be able to do those things. If you are not sure, run your essay by a Royal Literary Fund fellow (on the 4th floor) or come and see me! Misguidedly I feel the Department will not allow me to look at a draft of your work but I can teach you how to use the apostrophe.

The other thing we are looking for which time is crucial is research. I know that there are some modules which don’t require research. This is not one of them. Someone came to me recently about an essay for a different module and he said he did not have to do any secondary reading—the essay was all about HIM. I was left thinking how would we begin to mark and award a degree in YOU. I think that was an extreme case but there are assignments which are there to assess you as readers, without any extra help. This course differs from those in one respect. We are only interested in turning you out as good readers. The difference is that with seventeenth-century texts, the authors and the people it was written for are sufficiently distanced from our culture that we think you need to know quite a lot of stuff in order to be good readers.

So this assignment is about knowing stuff and applying it to reading a text.

This might include a combination of the following:

- a discussion of the text and its contents with reference to political/literary/religious events; what is going on around that date which it might be referring to

- a discussion of the text and its contents with reference to the political/literary/religious identity of the author and/or patron; is there a spin on the text

- a explanation of literary devices (e.g. imagery, verse-form, genre) within the text with reference to the literary traditions on which they draw; for those of you who are allergic to history per se this is a question which needs a knowledge of LITERARY HISTORY which I don’t think anyone can say is outside the scope of a literature degree

- an exploration of the significance of the date of writing and/or printing in terms of religious and/or political events or writings, and/or literary, philosophical, social or scientific movements or writings; I don’t see myself how this is different from 1.

- an exploration of the significance of the printing conditions (e.g. who printed it, where, and what else came off that press) in terms of religious and/or political events or writings, and/or literary, philosophical, social or scientific movements or writings. For that you would need to know something about the printer. Milton’s 1671 volume was printed by Spark and you could click on the New DNB, find out about him, and read the 1671 volume as poetry he,  with all his particular politics and friends, would have agreed to print, realising that printing anything by Milton was risky.

I hope you can see that all of these tasks are about reading the text, but reading it more fully and accurately than a modern reader who knows nothing about the seventeenth century could do. Which is why we have chosen texts which have not been edited in a modern edition. We want you to do the work which an editor would usually have to do, drawing on your knowledge of seventeenth-century vocabulary, literary genres, religious movements, or politics to interpret the text well.


If you don’t answer one of the questions given we have asked you to agree a title with us so that you don’t go off on a wrong track.


Bocalini, jun., Iö Carole, or, An extract of a letter sent from Parnassus wherein are contained severall epigrames, odes, &c upon His Majesty's coronation (1661)

This is a send-up. Of Homer, Virgil, Quarles and Spenser. It mimics a Royalist miscellany, showing off lots of different kinds of learning. But I suspect all the poems are by the author and this is a pseudonym.

1. How do the parts of the miscellany Io Carole create the argument of the whole?

2. Why does the author of Io Carole use material in other languages and their 'translation' within his text?


A Pittilesse Mother

A murder pamphlet. So Lynn Robson’s White Devil lecture notes are the obvious first place to go. But don’t quote them. That is not because what she says might not be right—she is one of the world experts on murder pamphlets. But our lectures to you are not to be used as evidence in your essays. That is because our lectures to you are not research, they are teaching. They are meant to give you ideas which you then follow up in your own research. Now if you are inspired by Lynn’s lecture and want to do this assignment you can get her thesis out of Warwick library if you want to—it is a dead good thesis. The world leader on murder pamphlets, who examined Lynn’s thesis and thought it was brilliant, is Peter Lake from Princeton University. His book, The Antichrist’s Lewd Hat, is in the bibliography on the Web, actually mentions The Pitilesse Mother. Topics you might pursue.

How to reference this text:


It is quarto, and foliated. This means that each sheet is folded into 4. Sheet A is folded into 4, so is sheet B, etc. However, only the front of the first four pages will have a foliation mark at the bottom. A1 will have two sides so you will have to specify r (recto) for front and v (verso) for the back. You have to use the abbreviation ‘sig.’ (short for ‘signature’) Instead of p. So it should go sig. A1r, sig. A1v, sig. A2r, sig. A2v, sig. A3r, sig. A3v, sig. A4r, sig. A4v, sig. B1r, etc.


The type is black-letter: cheap English pamphlets in the early part of the period were printed in this type. When ‘Bocalini jun.’ wants to take the mick out of Spenser, he prints him in black-letter.

What genre is it? The seventeenth-century had not made up a genre called ‘the murder pamphlet’ so what did they think they were reading? What assumptions are guiding its composition? How is the reader being constructed (the reader is directly addressed throughout)

Possible questions: How does the plot and the vocabulary of this story further its anti-Catholic agenda?

Show how the construction of good and bad motherhood in A Pittilesse Mother is dictated by the gender ideology of the time.



The King and Queenes entertainement at Richmond

What does the Wiltshire dialect signify? Not a typical court masque: in some ways it is more like a royal entertainment, often put on at great houses when the monarch visits. The involvement of noble children (who?) is typical—remember ‘Comus’.

The last page is missing and has been supplied in a later scribal hand.

Bear in mind that the masque is entirely aimed at the Queen—links into how Anne was using the Jonson masques. Henrietta Maria had her own court and put on her own plays and masques. The role of the feminine here is important.

Who are the Romans? The Druids?

How old is Prince Charles? And why is he called Britomart?


Francis Quarles, Shepheards Oracles (1645)

Why only published in 1645? Written in 1630s. Quarles is now dead—but he has a big reputation. See The Loyal Convert which was extremely popular in the early 1640s.

The names here are indicative of the politico-religious stances under debate.

Choose only a few of the eclogues.

Eclogue 4 Nullifidius and Pseudo-Catholicus

Eclogue 6 Arminius and Philamnus

Eclogue 7 Schimaticus and Adelphus

Eclogue 8 Anarchus and Canonicus

Eclogue 11 was written in the 1640 and has a very different tone—refers directly to contemporary events.

Theology worked out through pastoral dialogue—see Lycidas

Take no notice of any critics who say Quarles is Royalist. Robert Wilcher, The Writing of Royalism, has got it right.


The Varietie(1649)

Like Jonson in that it caricatures learned ladies. Not a City comedy.

Full of nostalgia—the characters keep looking back, especially to Elizabeth’s time, but also to James’ time.

Wine women and song—scene in Act IV

Attributed to the Duke of Newcastle—who he? Very important.

1. How and why does The Varietie make use of nostalgia?

2. What use is made of the difference between town and country in The Varietie?


Katherine Sutton, A Christian Womans Experiences(1663).

The only example of women's authorship here although Henrietta Maria is a dominant presence in the entertainment text. Women’s authorship is one way you could approach this—how does Katherine Sutton negotiate a place for her writing in contemporary culture? You could situate the text in the context of the spiritual journal, both by men and women: I have written on spiritual journals in the Blackwell’s companion to English Renaissance literature and culture / edited by Michael Hattaway.There is an article by me about political use of women’s spiritual journals in the book ed. James Daybell, Early Modern Women and Politics (2004)If you don’t want to focus on women’s authorship focus on the political context for such writings. What is happening in the early 1660s? Who is Hanserd Knollys? (he’s famous). Why is she publishing in Rotterdam? She like Agnes Beaumont is a Baptist—what does that mean?There is some poetry in this text—again, huge negotiations as to how she can justify writing poetry. As we know this was a problem for religious poets like George Herbert. She is no George Herbert but she uses some of the same lines.

Comment on the influence of Katherine’s beliefs on the patterning of the text.

How does the style of Sutton’s compositions reflect anxieties about female authorship in the seventeenth century?


Thomas D’Urfey, The Royalist(1682).

Another full text version—you can download it in Word. Be careful though—page refs will have to be used as from the original text, but there are links to the original text throughout so you can check your p numbers online. Also be careful because either the person transcribing this was a cretin or they used software which could not recognise the seventeenth-century long s. So you will come across alarming references to ‘fucking’ in this text. Of course the joke was there for seventeenth-century readers who could see the similarity between fuck and suck but originally it read ‘suck’….

The prologue makes quite clear that this play is written in the 1682 context (it talks a lot about coffee houses and the ‘shrieve’ who is the sheriff (OED): can you remember why the sheriff of London is so important?). However the history described is from 1651, the Battle of Worcester, although the dialogue could not have happened then and you may be able to spot some distinctly Restoration rhetoric and politics. The Battle of Worcester has of course assumed mythological statusin Royalist rhetoric, and this play depends on that. We start with the oak, for goodness’ sake. Think about the values of this play which are not 1650s but 1680s Tory ones—a Cavalier stereotype is created for the hero (and what does that mean? Think Cavalier poets). The villains on the other hand are clearly 1680s Whigs—and what does that mean? And what about the morality of the play? Very Restoration comedy, not 1650s at all.

Possible questions: For what purpose is a Tory playwright recreating events of 1651 in a 1682 play?

Describe the characterisation of heroes and villains in the play and show how it refers to the construction of Whig and Tory identity in 1682.


Anon, The famous tragedie of King Charles I basely butchered (London, 1649)

Some well known events, and others not so well known, conveyed in a dramatic form. It’s popular drama and the view of history is somewhat partial…. Treats the siege of Colchester (look it up) from a Royalist point of view. The characterisation is vicious! 

How is either characterisation OR the portrayal of events affected by political bias?

How effective politically is the representation of historical event as drama in The famous tragedie of King Charles I basely butchered?