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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: English Short Name: DF01X
Level: HE2 Module Co-ordinator: LUNA I Ms (English)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
Essay or Report
Qualifying Condition(s)
Essay or Report (50% of total assessment)
1 essay of 2000 – 2500 words
Examination (50% of total assessment)
A seen paper

The assessment in this interdisciplinary option is designed to demonstrate the students’ skills and knowledge in the core disciplines at level two degree study. They should also demonstrate a critical understanding of the forces that shaped popular culture in Early Modern England and the ability to synthesise and evaluate material from a range of sources from the three core disciplines. Students will be required to give an oral presentation as part of their formative learning in order to develop their confidence in delivering a paper in front of their peers and answering questions on their chosen topic. The essay or equivalent will encourage students to develop their independent research skills as well as their ability to further develop their critical analytical skills. The examination is designed to assess academic discipline, mental organisation and powers of synthesis under pressure. These skills will help prepare students for third level study.
Module Overview
This level two interdisciplinary option provides students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of the undercurrent of  belief systems and customs that helped shape  Early Modern Popular Culture on England. It will provide students  with a greater awareness of the complexity of English cultural life and help extend the knowledge and skills gained in the level two compulsory interdisciplinary core  modules. Students taking this module will have the opportunity to critically evaluate the interrelationship between the high and low cultures of the period.
60 credits at Level 1 (or equivalent)
Module Aims
  • To evaluate change and continuity in English Popular Culture during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • To develop an understanding of the interrelationship between literary and visual culture of the period.
  • To build on the social and political themes raised in the both level two interdisciplinary compulsory core modules.
  • To encourage students to think critically about interpreting and defining the meaning of ‘popular culture’.
Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

Knowledge and Understanding
  • Demonstrate a understanding of the forces of change and continuity that helped to shape popular culture in England during the Tudor and Stuart periods.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how selected social and cultural issues are expressed and represented in visual and literary popular culture sources.
  • Demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of current scholarship on this topic.
Cognitive / Intellectual Skills
  • Demonstrate an ability to make active links between the three disciplines within the context of popular culture.
  • Evaluate and synthesise material from historical, literary and art historical sources with minimal guidance.
  • Adopt a critical approach to primary and secondary sources with minimal guidance.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use specialised language and appropriate academic conventions with accuracy.
Key / Transferable / Practical Skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to work to deadlines and manage study-time efficiently.
  • Demonstrate the use of self-selected materials in assignments.
  • Work effectively with others in discussion groups.
  • Develop skills in presentation and written and oral communication acquired at level one.
In order to achieve the threshold standard for the award of credits for this module, the student must meet the following criteria related to the learning outcomes described above:
  • Knowledge of key issues that reveal change and continuity in Early Modern Popular Culture.
  • An understanding of the literary and visual expression of popular culture of the period within its historical context.
  • Evidence of appropriate selection and acknowledgement of source material in formal assessment.
  • Accurate literary, art historical and historical knowledge of the period.
Module Content
The first session will provide an introduction to the subject and to the interdisciplinary nature of the module and the themes around which the historical, literary and art historical content will be structured. Defining the term ‘popular culture’ within the context of scholarly interpretations will be examined.
A comprehensive study of the historical context of popular culture will evaluate forces of change and continuity that shaped everyday life and popular belief in 16th and 17th century England. The themes will include; the role of religion and popular belief; popular pastimes; changing attitudes to women and the family; witchcraft and persecution; the origins and nature of popular radicalism and the causes and consequences of popular rebellion in Early Modern England.
Students will also analyse the role of the image in popular culture. Specific reference will be made to the use of visual symbolism and propaganda imagery to convey ideas to a largely illiterate population. Social perceptions of the ‘ordinary men and women’ as well as popular self-perception will be addressed by examining contemporary paintings, woodcuts, church carvings and illustrations in broadsheets and contemporary pamphlets. The role of the artisan in popular cultural tradition will be studied in conjunction with an evaluation of changes in living conditions during the period.
The literary content of this module will look on the growth of the playhouse, which drew into it all sections of the community and was arguably the single most significant generator of popular mass literary culture. Some attention will also be given to the development of popular print forms such as ballad sheets, broadsheets and chapbooks. Prose fiction and the early development of the novel are also included as new ways of representing and reflecting types of popular culture. Some reference will also be made to the importance of sermon oratory as a major form of mass communication.
There will be extensive discussion of the main themes of the set texts, including Shakespeare and the common man (and the nature of superstition and folklore) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Ben Jonson’s picture of city folk in Bartholomew Fair with its satirical approach towards puritanism and petty authority; the significance of religious dissent and the development of the novel form in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Methods of Teaching/Learning
12 x 2 hour sessions (or equivalent)

The Teaching and Learning Strategy is designed to ensure that students are able to display the knowledge and skills outlined in the learning outcomes for this module. Strategies adopted will encourage students to interact in classroom and group discussion and to reflect on their own learning. Close analysis of a variety of primary and secondary sources in all three disciplines will develop critical understanding of key issues. This interdisciplinary option will be taught by a small team of subject specialists who will remain in close contact for the duration of the module to ensure that the overall teaching strategy is coherent throughout.
The Teaching and Learning method will include a mixture of informal lecture, group work and self directed learning. A high level of student participation is expected. Handouts outlining key issues may also be used to encourage a more comprehensive understanding of the subject. Visual aids such as slides and video footage will also accompany some sessions where relevant. This module also includes some interdisciplinary thematic sessions to further develop student’s interdisciplinary skills in preparation oft their formal assessment.
Selected Texts/Journals
Essential Texts
Reay, B (1998) Popular Cultures in England 1550-1750, Longman, London
Sharpe, J. A. (1997) Early Modern England; A Social History, London, Edward Arnold
Source Text (Literature)
Brooks, H. (ed) (2001) Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Arden edition, London: Thomson
Campbell, G. (ed) (1998), Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair in The Alchemist and Other Plays, Oxford: OUP
Nashe, Thomas. Unfortunate Traveller in Salzman, P. (ed) (1998) An Anthology of Elizabethean Prose Fiction includes Deloney, Thomas. Jack of Newberie
Sharrock, R. (ed) (1987)Bunyan, John, The Pilgrim’s Progress, London: Penguinor Keeble, N. (ed) (1998), Oxford: OUP 
Owens, W (ed) (2003) Oxford, OUP

Recommended Reading
Braunmuller & Hattaway, (ed) (1990) The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama, London
Harris, T. (ed) (1995) Popular Culture in England 1500 – 1800, MacMillan Press, London
Leavis, Q. D. (2000) Fiction and the Reading Public, London: Pimlico
Other Indicative Reading
History and Art
Bruskill, R. W. (1971) Vernacular Architecture, London, Faber & Faber
Burke, P. (1978) Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe. Temple Smith
Clark, A. (1982) Working life of Women in the 17th Century, London
Coward, B. (1988) Social Change and Continuity in Early Modern England 1550-1750, London, Seminar Series
Cressy, D (1997) Birth, Marriage & Death and the Life-Cycle in Tudor & Stuart England, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Fletcher, A ((1995) Gender, Sex and Subordination in England 1500-1800, Yale University Press
Ford, B. (ed) (1992) 17th Century Britain, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Friedman, J. (1993) Miracles of the Pulp Press During the English Revolution, U.C.L.
Hill, C. (1985) Change & Continuity in 17th Century England, York, York University Press
Hutton, R. (1994) The Rise and Fall of Merry England, 1400-1700. Oxford, Oxford University Press
Larner, C. (1984) Witchcraft and Religion: Politics of Popular Belief, London
Reay B (ed) (1985) Popular Culture in the 17th Century, Croom Helm Ltd, Kent
Seaver, P. (1985) Wallington’s World of a Puritan Artisan, London, Methuen
Stone, L. (1977) The Family, Sex and Marriage in England, 1500-1800, London, Penguin
Thomas, K. (1971) Religion and the Decline of Magic, London, Penguin
Underdown, C. (1985) Revel, Riot and Rebellion. Popular Politics & Culture in England, 1603-1660. Oxford, Oxford University Press
Walter, J. (2006) Crowds and Popualr Politics in early Modern England, Manchester University Press
Watt T (1994) Cheap Print & Popular Piety 1550 – 1640, Cambridge, CUP
Briggs, J. (1983) The Stage-Play World, Oxford, Oxford University Press
Gurr, A. (1996) Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London, Cambridge: CUP
McKeon, M. (1986) The Origins of the English Novel, London
Willey, B. (1986) The Seventeenth Century Background, London

Last Updated
29 June 2008