ENG20450 Writing and Performance in the Age of Shakespeare: Renaissance Literature

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module is designed as an introduction to the writing of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Reading Shakespeare's plays and poems alongside the work of other key writers of the Tudor and Stuart period, this module will examine Renaissance drama and poetry in the light of contemporary writing and performance practices. Key preoccupations of the age will be investigated, amongst them the representation of the self and intimate relationships, the portrayal of outsiders and ethnic Others (including the Irish), the struggles of imperialism, the problems of monarchy, the controversies surrounding religion, and the pressures of urban life. The writings of Shakespeare and his contemporaries will thus be situated in dynamic relation to their Renaissance contexts. As an introduction to the period, this module will provide a good foundation for further study of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature at Level Three and beyond.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to demonstrate: 1. knowledge and critical understanding of a spectrum of Renaissance writings in different dramatic and poetic genres; 2. a sophisticated understanding of the way literature and history are mutually constituting in this period; 3. the ability to situate a range of Renaissance texts in their writing, reading, and performance contexts, showing how this deepens understanding of the texts; 4. the ability to critically analyse the language and practice of Renaissance drama and poetry; 5. thoughtful engagement with key critical and theoretical debates in the field.

Indicative Module Content:

Module content will derive primarily from the Norton Anthology of English Literature (The Sixteenth Century/Early Seventeenth Century volume).

Indicative (but *provisional*) content includes:

Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Milton, Paradise Lost
Sonnets and poems by Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney, Aemilia Lanyer, John Donne, George Herbert, Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Marlowe, John Milton.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Weekly lectures and weekly workshops (encompassing groupwork and peer learning). This module uses the weekly workshop as the primary place where student learning happens: here we will read our core texts and acquire the skills needed to read them in the light of their historical contexts and our own contemporary concerns. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Successful completion of Literature in Context 1 is recommended for this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ENG31260 - Renaissance Literature (EVENIN

Renaissance Literature (ENG30010)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Continuous Assessment: Short writing exercises Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Essay: 2500-word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Group feedback post-assessment of short exercises. Optional individual essay feedback available to students in the following trimester.

Name Role
Professor Danielle Clarke Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Jane Grogan Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Naomi McAreavey Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Annie Khabaza Tutor
Mr Jason O'Toole Tutor