- Department: English and Related Literature
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Lauren Working
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: H
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
- See module specification for other years: 2022-23
Late Tudor and Stuart travel writing brims with the marvels of other places, from descriptions of Mughal Indian hospitality to rumours of cities of gold in the Amazon. This was a moment of imperial envy, as the English looked to the wealth of eastern empires, and intense rivalry, where agents and spies navigated borders and languages to gain knowledge and fuel claims of imperial possession. Even as the English benefited from the influx of new goods and information coming into the realm, travellers were also part of complex networks of commerce, diplomacy, and colonialism that brought dispossession and ecological devastation.
You will be encouraged to think about English and European writings about other cultures and societies alongside material created by those places – a colonial text about Virginia, for example, alongside Indigenous beads and tobacco pipes from the Jamestown archaeological site – in order to expand their understanding of ‘the Renaissance’ and to ask critical questions about the costs and consequences of global travel in this period. You will develop your visual literacy and the confidence to analyse objects alongside textual material. This module will explore a wide range of English travel writing alongside texts and objects from other continents to think about global mobility in the Renaissance and to ask: whose ‘golden age’ was it?
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The aim of this module is to examine a broad range of English literature that engages with travel and cross-cultural encounters in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including poetry, plays, romances, and language manuals.
On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with different genres of travel literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with textual and object-based analysis
Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields dealing with Renaissance global travel and colonialism
Produce independent arguments and ideas which demonstrate an advanced proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
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You will be given the opportunity to submit a 1000-word formative essay for the module, which can feed into the 3000-word summative essay submitted at the end of the module.
Your essay will be annotated and returned to you by your tutor within two weeks.
You will submit your summative essay via the VLE during the revision and assessment weeks at the end of the teaching semester (weeks 13-15). Feedback on your summative essay will be uploaded to e:Vision to meet the University’s marking deadlines
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You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment
William Painter, ‘Sophonisba’, from The Palace of Pleasure (1567)
Thomas Hariot, A brief and true report of the new found land of Virginia (1588)
Anne of Denmark’s court masques
Francis Bacon, ‘Of Travel’ and ‘Of Plantation’
John Fletcher and Philip Massinger, The Sea Voyage (1622)
John Fletcher, The Island Princess (1623)
Roger Williams, A Key into the Language of America (1643)
‘Guatemala’ section of Thomas Gage, The English American (1651)
Margaret Cavendish, ‘Assaulted and Pursued Chastity’ (1656)
Aphra Behn, The Widow Ranter (1689)
Additional sources: 16th century passports; Ottoman poetry; language dictionaries; an oral history by an Amazonian shaman; botanical specimens; Madagascan cornelian beads.
Simon Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (2011);
Kim Hall, Things of Darkness (1995); Jyotsna Singh, A Companion to the Global Renaissance, revised edition (2021);
Travel and Travail: Early Modern Women, Drama, and the Wider World, ed. Patricia Ahkimie and Bernadette Andrea (2019);
Lauren Working, ‘Cannibalism & Politics: The English Renaissance Revisited’, Anthropology Today (2019);
Coll Thrush, ‘The Iceberg and the Cathedral: Encounter, Entanglement, and Isuma in Inuit London’ (2014).