ATS2492 - Shakespeare and Renaissance literature - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Literary Studies


Dr Peter Groves

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


One of the main organizing principles of the Literatures in English major stream is periodisation, and the aim of this unit is to develop and extend students' historical understanding of modern English literature in its foundational Renaissance period (roughly 1580-1660), in terms of its generic and aesthetic forms and structures and its ideological and political contexts and concerns, focussing on the work of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), John Donne (1572-1631), John Milton (1608-1674), and their contemporaries. The unit will pay particular attention to the complex representation of gender and sexuality in the period. Shakespeare's plays will be considered in relation to the various interpretations which have been applied to or imposed upon them by critics and directors over the years, and how these reflect changing times and fashions as well as political and cultural biases.


On successfully completing the course students will be expected to have developed:

  1. a familiarity with the various and changing intellectual contexts -- aesthetic, philosophical, religious, scientific, political and social -- of the Renaissance and of the ways in which they form and inform its literature;
  2. an understanding of the ways in which a variety of poetic and dramatic texts explore the concepts of power (political, social and sexual) and of desire (religious, courtly, neo-Platonic and sexual) in the Renaissance period;
  3. the ability to respond imaginatively and critically to texts of a period of English literature whose traditions and conventions, though very different from those of the present, have had a significant influence on it;
  4. some understanding of the complexity of gender- and race-representation in Renaissance literature;
  5. the ability to apply different critical approaches to Renaissance texts and to the preoccupations and themes which they embody;
  6. the ability to argue, interpret and analyse effectively both in written work and orally in seminar discussion.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.