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Study information

Renaissance Space

Module titleRenaissance Space
Module codeEASM160
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Philip Schwyzer ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Renaissance Space focuses on the literary production of space and place in the early modern period, from imaginary islands and fairy kingdoms to the literature of travel and exploration. The three main segments of the syllabus focus on the representation (and complex interrelationship) of Imagined Space, British Space, and Global Space. The module traces debates over the nature and meanings of these spaces and places, through works including plays by Shakespeare and Marlowe, Spenser's epic Faerie Queene, early prose fiction by Nashe, and texts emerging from locales ranging from Mughal India to the American colonies.

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • To introduce you to a range of canonical and lesser-known works of early modern literature, centring on the representation and characterisation of space and place. You will examine the connections between texts and contexts, and explore a range of writing about space and place within the Renaissance, and more generally. The module is also designed to develop your skills in researching and writing about Renaissance culture.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of specific authors and works of the early modern period
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of the literary and cultural history of the early modern period
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to relate early modern texts to their cultural, historical and spatial contexts

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate a sophisticated and intellectually mature ability to analyse the literature an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts.
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and precise ability to work from the detail of literary texts, with a full appreciation of their formal aspects.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate your views convincingly both individually and in groups.
  • 8. Through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose.
  • 9. Through research for module assessments, demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.
  • 10. Through research, discussion, and essay writing demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect on your own learning process

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

I. Imagined Space:

  • Thomas More, Utopia
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Selections from Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, and Spenser’s View of the Present State of Ireland

II. British Space:

  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2
  • Selections from Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, and William Camden’s Britannia
  • Debating the Space of the Church: selections on ecclesiastical spaces in John Stow, Survey of London, and poems from George Herbert, The Temple

III. Global Space:

  • Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller, with selections from Thomas Coryat, Coryat’s Crudities
  • Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine Parts 1 & 2
  • Selections from Peter Mundy’s Travels in Europe and Asia 1608-1667, andMuhammad Rabi, The Ship of Sulaiman
  • Land of ‘The Great Mogul’: selections from Abul Fazl, Akbarnama and Ain-i Akbari; Mukundaram Chakravarti, Chandimangal;and John Dryden, Aurang-Zebe
  • Selected poetry of Katherine Philips and Anne Bradstreet

Note: you will also participate in a session on methodological issues relating to print and manuscript in the early modern period. 

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars
Guided Independent Study100Seminar preparation (independent)
Guided Independent Study178Reading, research and essay preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual presentation15 minutes1-7, 9-10Cohort feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research report252500 words1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with tutorial follow-up
Essay755000 words1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research reportResearch report1-6, 8-10Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay1-6, 8-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading: 

  • Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine Parts 1 and 2, in Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, ed. David Bevington (Oxford, 1995)
  • Thomas More, Utopia, in Three Early Modern Utopias, ed. Susan Bruce (Oxford, 1999)
  • Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works, ed. J. B. Steane (Penguin, 1985)
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, ed. David Scott Kastan (Arden, 2002)
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, ed. James C. Bulman (Arden, 2016)
  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest, ed. Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan (Arden, 2008)
  • Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, ed. A. C. Hamilton, et al, 3rd edition (Longman, 2006)

Note: You are welcome to use alternative modern scholarly editions of any of the above works. Other readings will be supplied in class or made available online

Secondary Reading: 

  • Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Writing the Mughal World: Studies on Culture and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012)
  • Bernhard Klein, Maps and the Writing of Space in Early Modern England and Ireland (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001)
  • Jess Edwards, Writing, Geometry and Space in Early Modern England and America: Circles in the Sand (London: Routledge, 2006)
  • Nina Chordas, Forms in Early Modern Utopia: The Ethnography of Perfection (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010)
  • Richard Helgerson, Forms of Nationhood: The Elizabethan Writing of England (University of Chicago Press, 1991)
  • Andrew McRae, Literature and Domestic Travel in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Julie Sanders, The Cultural Geography of Early Modern Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Renaissance, early modern, space, utopias, travel, geography, culture, religion, architecture, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Nashe

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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