ENMIO-Identitiy and Otherness in the Early Modern Period

Module Provider: English Literature
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Michelle O'Callaghan

Email: m.f.ocallaghan@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
Early modern English literature plays host to a whole range of ‘others’ – in plays, travel writing and captivity narratives, pamphlets, newssheets, and letter writing. These texts ‘reflect’, but perhaps more accurately refract, England’s growing engagement (commercial, diplomatic, cultural) with the wider world in the second half of the sixteenth century, arguably registering a heightened consciousness at home of what such encounters might mean. This module examines how this cultural engagement with various ‘others’ operates, and what it might tell us about early modern perceptions of race, religion, and gender – how, that is, the structuring principle of difference articulates notions of ‘identity’ and ‘otherness’. Sample texts from Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1589 & 1598-1600) and other travel and captivity narratives, alongside a selection of prose and drama, such as, Coryat’s Crudities (1611), Thomas Overbury’s Characters (1614), The Jew of Malta (c.1591), and The Travails of the Three English Brothers (1607) will be examined as indices of how a range of ‘others’ – Spanish Catholics, Muslim Turks and Persians, and (perhaps most problematically) Jews and Moors – were perceived.

This module aims to provide knowledge and understanding of the variety and complexity of the representation of ‘identity’ and ‘otherness’ in the early modern period in a range of literary forms. Students will be introduced to primary and secondary texts, encouraged to place both early modern and theoretical/critical perspectives in their historical and political contexts, and to show awareness of the nuances and implications of different modes of enquiry.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module, students will be expected to:
-Identify the main developments in recent critical approaches to the representation of ‘the other’ in early modern studies
-Demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of selected early modern texts as they relate to issues of ‘identity’ and ‘otherness’
-Formulate critical questions and interpret texts critically with reference to debates - then and now - about textual representation of and negotiation with other cultures
-Conduct and demonstrate independent thought and research in the selection and analysis of texts

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
At the beginning of the module students will be introduced to recent developments in early modern studies, with particular emphasis on the emergence of a new focus on the representation of ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’. This overview will be situated in its historical context and illustrated by reading excerpts from Hakluyt and representative critics, such as Stephen Greenblatt and Richard Helgerson. The first part of the course will examine prose narratives, such as those in The Principal Navigations and Coryat’s Crudities, together with examples from letters and pamphlets; in the second part of the course students will address the representation of ‘difference’ in the playhouse, reading plays such as Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta. A key feature of the module is the reader-critic’s terms of engagement with different kinds of text, paying attention to contexts of genre, production, audience, and reception. Topics for consideration will include: early modern England’s relations with Europe and beyond; the role (and status) of the traveller-figure; perceptions of religion, race, and identity; the conventions of theatrical representation; and the complexity of textual representation in the various literary forms examined in the course.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module consists of eleven weekly seminars, each two hours in length. Each seminar will involve discussion of texts or special materials that have been set and prepared in advance. The module teacher will also be available for consultation with students on a one-to-one basis to discuss their work and the progress of the module as a whole.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 22
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study: 177
Total hours by term 18
Total hours for module

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Not applicable.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Aside from the set readings and questions for discussion, students must submit a 4000-word essay on a topic of their choice, in which they will respond to and develop upon an aspect of the material covered in the seminars. The specific title will be determined by the student in consultation with the module convenor.

Formative assessment methods:
Presentations with feedback.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 30 October 2019


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