LIT102 : Renaissance: Text, Theory, Context

Convenor(s): Dr Marcus Nevitt


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

General Information

This module introduces students to a broad range of the poetry and drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. We will bring canonical writers such as Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne and Ben Jonson into productive dialogue with relatively overlooked figures like Aemilia Lanyer, Lady Mary Wroth and Elizabeth Cary. Over the course of 22 lectures and 11 seminars, students will interrogate what they understand by key terms such as 'author', 'text' and 'history' and will begin to gain an informed sense of the chronological development and diversity of early modern culture.


Like the IALS module, the Renaissance course is taught through a combination of two weekly lectures and one weekly seminar. You can also visit your tutor in their weekly office hours to discuss issues further. Lectures in particular form an important part of the course. They are intended to start you thinking about the critical and cultural contexts necessary to facilitate your reading and enjoyment of early modern texts. Crucially, however, they are not intended as definitive 'last words' on particular topics which you then have to parrot in assessment. They are there to prompt your own ideas and enable you to contextualise your innovative close readings in new and exciting ways. Seminars occur in the department once a week and last for 50 minutes. You should always make the most of your seminars; they are an excellent opportunity to refine and share your ideas with other students and your tutor.


As with the IALS module, there are three assessments on this module. The first essay (1500 words) will be on the drama you have studied in the early stages of the course. It has been devised to give you the opportunity to demonstrate the close reading skills that you have developed to date on your degree. The second essay (2000 words) encourages you to broaden the scope of your enquiry in order to make defensible arguments about texts in relation to key contexts. The final assessment on this module consists of a three-hour closed book examination. You must answer two questions on this paper. The first will be focussed on a set text (see later), the other is on the period more generally. The exam is here to prepare you for the kinds of assessment you will encounter at Levels 2 and 3. It also develops skills in time management, work prioritisation, and the ability to construct convincing arguments. We realise, of course, that exams can be daunting, but there are no trick questions and we will spend time in class helping you to prepare well. Individual tutors will be available to give guidance and assurance and we even offer a lecture packed full of exam tips and techniques.

Contact Details

Dr Marcus Nevitt

Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:40:06 PM (BST)


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