This module explores the renaissance of English writing during the reigns of the early Tudor monarchs, a period that bridges the dismantling of the material and intellectual world of the Catholic Middle Ages and the emergence of a Protestant nation shaped by Humanist thought and the reformist theology of Martin Luther. This is a time of radicalism, rebellion, tyrannical monarchs, State executions, and profound philosophical and political divisions in society. These events are witnessed, interpreted, and shaped by writers of all political and religious persuasions, giving rise to a complex body of innovative and influential texts. Seminars are organised around key issues that inform much of the writing of the period: the arrival of the printing press, Humanism and the rediscovery of classical tradition, the courtier and the Court, Catholic belief and Protestant reform, politics and statecraft, women and education, England and the Continent. The module covers works written in a range of genres including historical narrative, lyric poetry and the sonnet, drama, sermons and polemical writing, and letters. English authors to be studied will be drawn from the following: Thomas Malory, John Skelton, Thomas Heywood, Thomas More, John Leland, William Tyndale, Thomas Wyatt, Thomas Elyot, Henry Howard, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Anne Askew, Hugh Latimer, John Bale, Lady Jane Grey, Thomas Hoby, Roger Ascham, and John Foxe. Students will also be introduced to works (in translation) by influential Continental writers such as Christine de Pizan, Erasmus, Castiglione, Machiavelli, and Luther.
Key texts include: Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur (1485); Thomas More, The History of King Richard III (1514-18); Christine de Pisan (trans. Brian Ansley), The Book of the City of Ladies (1521); John Skelton, Speke Parrot (1521); Simon Fish, A Supplication for the Beggars (1529); Sir Thomas Elyot, The Book Named the Governor (1531); John Leland, A New Year¿s Gift for Henry VIII (1549); Richard Tottel, Songes and Sonettes (1557); John Foxe, Book of Martyrs (1563-76).