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Working with Early Modern Literary Texts (30 credits)

Key information

  • Module code:

    7AAEM641

  • Level:

    7

  • Semester:

  • Credit value:

    30

Module description

This module – which is structured a little differently for students on each of the MA in Shakespeare Studies and the MA in Early Modern English Literature – is designed to develop students’ awareness of research methodologies for early modern literary study from undergraduate level to that required for the writing of Master’s level research papers and dissertation. It does so in two main ways, critical and textual. For the former, we will be reflecting on the developments and changes in critical direction of the study of Shakespearean and early modern texts over the last fifty or so years, and the first assessment will relate to this work. For the latter, we seek to make students aware of the various forms of dissemination through which early modern literary texts reached their target readership and/or audiences. Special emphasis is placed on the connotations, advantages and limitations associated with the medium of their transmission (manuscript, print, performance) and the influence of the ‘three houses’ – the great house (aristocratic patronage), the playhouse (the rise of commercial drama) and the printing house (the book trade and the rise of a literary market) – on their composition, their reception in the early modern period and their legacy for the modern reader/spectator. By the end, students will have a clearer grasp of critical history, of the development of a text from manuscript to print, and of the issues involved in editing early modern texts – all of which form a firm grounding for the essays you will later write for the optional modules and for the critical survey and dissertation.

Each class will focus on specific study-cases, which may vary from year to year depending on staff research interest and availability, and on current London theatre productions or exhibitions. A representative list of dramatic texts may include Shakespeare’s King Lear and Othello, Middleton’s Hengist, King of Kent (The Mayor of Queenborough) and/or Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore. Particular attention will also be paid to a range of early modern poets and prose writers, especially for the group from the MA in Early Modern English Literature.

Educational aims & objectives

This module aims to 1. provide a general awareness of the current state of the field of early modern/Shakespearean literary studies 2. provide an understanding of a range of current critical and theoretical approaches to the study of early modem/Shakespearean literary texts. 3. introduce students to the various forms of 'publication' (manuscript, print, performance) through which early modern literary texts reached their target audience 4. provide an understanding of the connotations, advantages and limitations associated with these forms of publication 5. provide an understanding of the influence of the 'three houses' - the great house (aristocratic patronage), the playhouse (the rise of commercial drama) and the printing house (the book trade and the rise of a literary market) - on their composition, their reception in the early modern period 6. provide an understanding of the nature of 'authorship', especially dramatic authorship, in early modern writing, especially by examining the collaborative orientation of early modem theatre. 7. Enable students to engage with the task of editing both at a practical and at a theoretical level.

Department

Module description disclaimer

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Please note that modules with a practical component will be capped due to educational requirements, which may mean that we cannot guarantee a place to all students who elect to study this module.

Please note that the module descriptions above are related to the current academic year and are subject to change.