EGH307 : English Renaissance Sonnets: desire, poetry, self

Convenor(s): Dr Cathy Shrank


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

The Renaissance was the heyday of the English sonnet. This module examines a wide variety of early modern sonnets, including Wyatt's Petrachan translations, Donne's Holy Sonnets, and the first sonnet sequence in English, written by Anne Lock. It also places Shakespeare's 1609 Sonnets in the context of contemporary collections and sequences of sonnets (e.g. Sidney‘s Astrophil and Stella, Daniel's Delia, Barnfield's homoerotic Cynthia)in order to address many of the unanswered questions raised by that text. Issues considered include patronage, politics, sexuality, reception, genre, and the peculiar publication of a work which, by 1609, risked looking out-moded. The module will also examine how modern editors affect the text they edit.


Teaching takes the form of a 1-hour seminar, twice a week, over eleven weeks. The seminars will be discussion-led, and are used to introduce the aims and promote the outcomes of the course in detail. The remaining hours per week of study for this module are to be divided between seminar preparation (directed reading), small group work, individual research, and preparation for assessments. Following established practice on the English Literature programme, should the module recruit more than 15 students, the students would be divided into two groups. Both groups would meet together as a large group for the first meeting, and in the smaller groups for the second.


The first assessment (30%) is a critical analysis (1,200 words) of a modern edition of a Renaissance sonnet collection.

The second assessment (20%) is a group project which builds on work done for the first assessment (which examined the effect of editorial policy). For this second assessment, students will work in a small group (of 3-4) to edit a selection of sonnets chosen by the group. This edited sample must be ready by Week 12, when the group will deliver a short (5-minute) oral presentation, explaining their selection, their editorial policy, and the intended readership and scope of their edition. The group should also keep a diary of their meetings and division of labour. The diary and edited sample are to be handed in at the time of the presentation.

The third assessment (50%) is a 2,000-word research essay.

Contact Details

Dr Cathy Shrank, tel: 0114 222 8485

Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:39:45 PM (BST)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK