This list relates to the year 2019/2020 which does not start until 01/09/2019
  1. Introduction

    This semester you will be an 'early-modernist', a critic working with us and encountering the problems, challenges and pleasures of seventeenth-century literature and culture. You will be introduced to perhaps the richest period of literary writing in English: from the Renaissance humanism of the early- seventeenth century, with its astonishing array of poetry and drama, through the tumult of the English civil war, to the heterogeneous literary and intellectual culture of the Restoration. You will be reading some of the greatest writers in English -- Ben Jonson, John Milton, Andrew Marvell -- and many unfamiliar names, including writing by several women. You are encouraged to think historically about the circulation and impact of the texts we're reading, and the ways they are shaped by the ideas and conflicts of their own time. Central to our whole course will be the ways in which English writers drew their inspiration from classical texts, and you'll have the opportunity to read several classical texts during the module. You are also invited to keep an eye on the way later writers have taken inspiration from seventeenth-century authors.


    This module has a dossier-- all core reading for the seminars will be provided in it.


    Further secondary reading is available via Blackboard.

  2. Week 1: Introduction: Reading and Writing in 1600 4 items
    This week we're going to start the module itself by thinking about some basic questions: why study seventeenth-century literature? And what skills do you need to be able to study it? One of the answers to these questions is that studying literature of the seventeenth century exposes you to understandings of the theory and practice of literary writing which are distinct from our own: a challenge in itself, and a pleasure too. How were people encouraged to read in the seventeenth century? And why? Our first seminar will try to offer some ways of approaching these questions through a close reading of two essays by the statesman and early essayist, Francis Bacon (1561-1626).
    1. The essayes or counsels, civill and morall - Francis Bacon, Michael Kiernan 1985

      Book Core Reading We will be reading the essays 'Of Friendship', 'Of Discourse', and 'Of Studies', pp. 80-87, 103-105, 152-154.

    2. Collected works of Erasmus - Desiderius Erasmus 1974-

      Book Core Reading We will be reading an extract from De Copia (Vol. XXIV, pp. 635-639).

    3. A dictionary of English manuscript terminology, 1450-2000 - Peter Beal 2008

      Book  We will be reading the section: 'Commonplace Book'.

    4. 'Introduction'

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading the section: 'Introduction'.

  3. Week 2: Humanism and Imitation: Ben Jonson 6 items
    All writers (all artists even) imitate the works of their predecessors. But, in the seventeenth century, the question of how and why we should imitate the Greek and Roman classical writers was at the heart of all debates in literary theory. Fundamental here was a movement called 'humanism', which advocated the study of the humanities, the great works of poetry, history and philosophy from Greece and Rome. What did it mean to 'imitate' classical authors? How did seventeenth century writers imitate these authors in the vernacular (i.e. in English)? And what theories were available to help understand this process of imitation? Our work this week and next will focus on perhaps early seventeenth-century England's most important writer (other than Shakespeare): the poet and playwright, Ben Jonson (1572-1637).
    1. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson 7 Volume Set - Martin Butler, Ian Donaldson, Ben Jonson, David Bevington 2012

      Book Core Reading We will be reading selected Epigrams: 'Inviting a Friend to Supper'; 'To William Camden'; 'To Old-End Gatherer'; 'On Poet-Ape'; 'To Thomas, Earl of Suffolk'; 'To Sir Thomas Roe'; and 'To the Same', all in Vol. IV. We will also be reading selections from Discoveries, Vol. VII, pp. 499-596.

    2. 'Book V, Epigram 78' (Vol. 1)

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'Book V, Epigram 78' (Vol. 1, pp. 419-421)

    3. 'Book X, Epigram 48' (Vol. 2)

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'Book X, Epigram 48' (Vol. 2, pp. 369-371);

    4. 'Book XI, Epigram 52' (Vol. 3)

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'Book XI, Epigram 52' (Vol. 3, p. 47).

    5. 'Epistle LXXXIV: On Gathering Ideas', Vol. II

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'Epistle LXXXIV: On Gathering Ideas', Vol. II, pp. 277-285.

    6. Chapter 13, 'Accommodations of Mobility in the Poetry of Ben Jonson'.

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading Chapter 13, 'Accommodations of Mobility in the Poetry of Ben Jonson'.

  4. Week 3: Women's Textual Cultures: Manuscript & Print 3 items
    All the early-modern writing we've looked at so far has been by men-- but many women were prolific and important writers in the seventeenth century, and their works are increasingly the object of study by modern critics. What was the place of women within the literary culture our module has been exploring? And how was writing by women read and circulated? You should already have started to see how important it is to pay attention to the circumstances of a text's early editions and readership, and this week we'll continue to develop this line of work by exploring three differing kinds of writing by three women, some of which were intended only to be read in the immediate household, some of which circulated more widely in handwritten copies, and some of which were put into print. How do the different circumstances of circulation shape the arguments, style and aims of these pieces of writing?
    1. Early modern women's manuscript poetry - Jill Seal Millman, Gillian Wright 2005

      Book Core Reading We will be reading the following poems: Hester Pulter, 'Who Can but pity this poor Turtle-dove?' (pp. 125-126); Katherine Philips, 'To Antenor, On a Paper of mine, which an unworthy Adversary of his threatened to publish, to pregiudice him, in Cromwels time' (pp. 131-132) and 'On the double murther of the King' (pp. 254-255).

    2. The collected works of Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda - Katherine Philips, Germaine Greer, R. Little, Patrick Thomas 93/1990

      Book Core Reading We will be reading 'To (the truly competent Judge of Honour) Lucasia, upon a scandalous libell made by J. Jones' and 'To Antenor, on a paper of mine wch J. Jones threatens to publish to his prejudice' (Vol. 1, pp. 114-117 and 346-348) and 'For my highly honour'd Mrs Temple att her lodging' (Vol. 2, pp. 137-142).

    3. 'A Pindaric Poem to the Reverend Doctor Burnett, On The Honour He Did Me of Enquiring After Me and My Muse'

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'A Pindaric Poem to the Reverend Doctor Burnett, On The Honour He Did Me of Enquiring After Me and My Muse', pp. 265-268.

  5. Week 4: The Origins of Autobiography: Writing Private Selves 2 items
    The seventeenth century saw the growth of new kinds of intimate and private writing. Fuelled by the developments of private spaces within the household and Protestant encouragement of personal devotion, our period witnessed an explosion of new forms of personal writing: diaries, letters, and autobiographies. This week we consider some of the most fascinating examples of this genre. We start by looking at the remarkable spiritual autobiography of Norwich’s greatest seventeenth-century writer, the doctor Thomas Browne (1605-1682): Religio Medici, or ‘the religion of a doctor’. In one of the most renowned works of English prose of the seventeenth century, Browne explores problems of faith and society in his era. We then turn to look at one of the most important diaries of the seventeenth century, the remarkable work of Lady Anne Clifford – a kind of chronicle history of the life and times of her family and its household. Then we turn finally to look at one of the most famous sequence of personal letters written by a woman in the seventeenth century, Dorothy Osborne’s (1627-1695) letters to her fiancé Sir William Temple. How do all these writers articulate personal experience? How is that personal experience situated in a wider social context? And how is each piece of writing shaped by its form and the material context of its readership and circulation?
    1. Early Modern Women's Writing: An Anthology 1560-1700 - Paul Salzman 2008

      Book Core Reading We will be reading the selections from the 'Diary' of Anne Clifford (pp. 63-81) and the Letters of Dorothy Osborne (pp. 247-269), alongside extracts from the critical introduction, pp. xv-xvii.

    2. Religio medici; Hydriotaphia: and, The garden of Cyrus - Thomas Browne, Robin Hugh A. Robbins, Thomas Browne, Thomas Browne 1972

      Book Core Reading We will be reading extracts from Religio Medici (pp. 1-29). (There are a number of copies of Religio Medici available at PR3327 REL)

  6. Week 5: Writing in the Middle East 1 item
    Last week, we explored the ways in which autobiographical writing emerged out of specific kinds of local contexts – the household and the family. This week, we stay with early-modern life-writing, but we are looking at it in a very different context: the rise of international trade in the Middle East in the seventeenth century. In our period, Western Asia was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, an imperial power which rose to prominence in the mid-fourteenth century and collapsed in the aftermath of World War I. English trade with the Ottoman Empire was managed through an institution called the Levant Company, which had established three ‘factories’ – trading centres – in the Ottoman Empire by the late seventeenth century, in Izmir, Istanbul (both in modern-day Turkey) and Aleppo (in modern-day Syria) These factories were not only centres of trade: they were also home to ministers who looked after the spiritual health of the Levant Companies’ sailors and merchants, and who made observations about their travels. The Levant factories, therefore, produced all kinds of writing – biographies, diaries, travel writing, ethnographies and more. Our focus this week is on the English presence in Aleppo and the writings it elicited. What motivated Englishmen – and English clergymen, in particular, as all our texts are written by or about clergymen -- to travel to this place, and what did they find when they got there? What forms did their writing take? Aleppo offers a particularly resonant example for our investigations, as the Aleppo that was visited by the English in the seventeenth century has now largely been destroyed in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. How does such terrible conflict condition and shape our reading of this week’s texts?
    1. Extracts from William Biddulph

      Chapter  We will be reading the extracts from William Biddulph, pp.83-105

  7. Week 6: TBC 0 items
  8. Week 7: Reading Week 0 items
  9. Week 8: Politics and Poetic Form: Andrew Marvell's Horatian Ode 3 items
    This week, we move forward in time to the summer of 1650. King Charles I had been executed as a tyrant in 1649, and Oliver Cromwell had just returned from a brutal military campaign in Ireland, and was well on the way to becoming Lord Protector of England. It was in this context that the poet and parliamentarian, Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), famous today as a lyric poet, wrote one of the most important political poems in English, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland. What does it mean for this poem to be called an 'Horatian Ode'? What is the relationship between the poem's form and its political affiliations? How does knowledge of its readership and circulation affect our understanding of the poem? This week also offers you an opportunity to think seriously about secondary criticism and how best to respond to it in your own essays. We will read three classic studies of Marvell's great poem, each with slightly different priorities and emphases, and ask ourselves, how can we understand these critics' arguments? What similarities and what differences do we find in their approaches and their conclusions? And how can we ourselves begin to engage with this critical conversation? We hope this week will help to equip you with the skills and confidence in reading secondary literature that you need during your undergraduate degree.
    1. The complete English poems - Andrew Marvell, Elizabeth Story Donno, Elizabeth Story Donno, Andrew Marvell 1974

      Book Core Reading We will be reading the poems, 'An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland' (pp. 55-58) and 'The First Anniversary of the Government under His Highness the Lord Protector, 1655' (pp. 126-137).

    2. 'Marvell's "Horatian Ode" and the Politics of Genre' - David Norbrook

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading the chapter by David Norbrook, 'Marvell's "Horatian Ode" and the Politics of Genre', pp. 147-169.

  10. Week 9: Christian Epic? Milton's Paradise Lost 3 items
    In the late 1650s, John Milton (1608-1674), polemicist and poet, began to dictate Paradise Lost, probably the most celebrated epic in the English vernacular. Here Milton reworked the biblical account of Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve in blank verse. In doing so, he relied heavily on the classical epics of Homer (the Iliad and Odyssey) and Vergil (the Aeneid) as stylistic and structural models. Yet despite this dependence on Greek and Latin poetry, Milton presented Paradise Lost as essentially improving pagan epic, offering a divinely-inspired alternative to the classical precedents he so frequently invokes. This week we will be considering the complex and sometimes paradoxical relationship Milton cultivated with ancient epic and scripture. We've already looked closely at several examples of imitation -- but how does imitation work in the epic form specifically? And how do you go about finding allusions for yourselves and working with them? We'll also be setting Milton's masterpiece in the genre beside the work of another Republican poet from the same period, Lucy Hutchinson, whose Order and Disorder offers a similar reworking of Genesis in verse. How does this woman's reworking of the bible in verse differ Milton's?
    1. Paradise Lost - John Milton 2005

      Book Core Reading We will be reading Paradise Lost 'Book 1'; 'Book 9', lines 1-47; and the note on 'The Verse'.

    2. The complete English poems - Andrew Marvell, Elizabeth Story Donno, Elizabeth Story Donno, Andrew Marvell 1974

      Book Core Reading We will be reading 'On Mr Milton's "Paradise Lost"'

    3. 'Book 1'

      Chapter Core Reading We will be reading 'Book 1'.

  11. Week 10: Conclusion: Dryden and Literary History 3 items
    Our work together this semester culminates in an in-depth study of the greatest writer of Restoration England: John Dryden (1631-1700). Dryden wrote in every genre -- original poetry, translations of the classics, tragedy, comedy, and even critical prose. In fact, there's a good case to be made that Dryden is the first English literary critic. Unlike the defeated and dejected Republican John Milton (to whom he was both antithetical and idolatrous in equal measure), Dryden was the great celebrant of the Restoration of Charles II after 1660, and became England's poet laureate. In the late 1680s, however, his conversion to Catholicism at the time of the accession of the Dutch Protestant monarch, William of Orange, in 1688, drove Dryden to the political margins, from where he worked on vast classical translation projects and meditated on the relationship between the literary culture of his own time and that of the past. How does Dryden conceive of the history of English literature? How does he tackle the mammoth achievement of John Milton's Paradise Lost? And how does he confront -- or obscure -- the turbulent political history of seventeenth-century England? With Dryden, we end by looking backwards and forwards at the same time: backwards to the classical past and the humanist literary culture with which we began, but also forwards, to the eighteenth century's conception of English literary traditions and aesthetics.
    1. The works of John Dryden - John Dryden, Edward Niles Hooker, H. T. Swedenberg, Vinton A. Dearing 1956-

      Book Core Reading We will be reading An Essay of Dramatick Poesy in Volume 17

    2. The works of John Dryden - John Dryden, Edward Niles Hooker, H. T. Swedenberg, Vinton A. Dearing 1956-

      Book Core Reading We will be reading Act 1 of The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man in Volume 12.

    3. The poems of John Dryden - John Dryden, James Kinsley, James Kinsley 1958

      Book Core Reading We will be reading the poems: 'To his Sacred Majesty, a Panegyrick on his Coronation' (Vol. 1, pp. 24-28); 'To My Dear Friend Mr Congreve on his Comedy called The Double Dealer' (Vol. 2, pp. 852-854); 'To Sir Godfrey Kneller' (Vol. 2, pp. 858-863). (these poems also appear in other works on Dryden - available in the PR3410 or PR3412 sections of the library)