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ENGL311 Renaissance Literature

A study of major English authors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from More to Milton.

In this paper we will study English Renaissance literature from Christopher Marlowe's defiant and ground-breaking play, Doctor Faustus, to John Milton's controversial epic poem, Paradise Lost. This period was one of tremendous upheavals and tremendous possibilities. The emergence of the printing press began to shape the way that writers imagined themselves and sparked the first 'information revolution'. The first purpose-built permanent theatres in London were opened. Religion and church governance were pressing national issues: England broke with the Catholic church under Henry VIII, was forcibly re-aligned under Mary Tudor and became Protestant again under Queen Elizabeth. Rulers throughout Europe consolidated their power and attempted to rein in powerful lords, but by the mid-seventeenth century the English parliament took the unprecedented (and hitherto unimaginable) step of executing their king.

In the midst of this tumult and upheaval, the writers we will study made their names, renewing old forms and forging new ones. Works studied will be analysed in context to show the cultural, social, political, religious and ideological currents of the time that motivated the creation of this exceptional literature.

Paper title Renaissance Literature
Paper code ENGL311
Subject English
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level ENGL points
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

To be advised when paper is next offered.

Teaching staff

To be advised when paper is next offered.

Teaching Arrangements

This paper is taught via a combination of lectures, seminar discussions and play readings.

  • Five Renaissance Tragedies, ed. Colin Gibson (available free from the Department of English)
  • Metaphysical Poetry: An Anthology (Thrift Edition). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2002
  • Ben Jonson. Volpone and The Alchemist (Oxford World's Classics). Ed. Gordon Campbell. Oxford, 1995
  • John Milton. Paradise Lost and Other Poems (Signet Classics). London: Penguin Books, 2003
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will gain:

  • The ability to analyse and appreciate English literature published before 1700
  • Knowledge of the cultural and historical context of the English Renaissance
  • Knowledge of early modern theatrical history
  • Familiarity with primary research resources for renaisssance literary scholarship

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system