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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Writing and Tyranny at the Court of Henry VIII (ENLI10296)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will study the writings of a period when politics and literature were intimately and powerfully connected. The dramatic and bloody events of the reign of Henry VIII are, thanks to frequent television adaptations, films and works of popular history, well known to many of us. But the equally extraordinary literary works produced and performed at and around the royal court in this period are less frequently studied. This course will focus on those works: poems, plays and prose writings, ranging from erotic lyrics to savage satirical attacks on the king and his ministers, from lightly comic plays to fierce polemical dramas. All of these texts are both powerful works in their own right and also contributions to political debates about the nature of royal power, religious truth or personal and sexual morality. And many of the writers we shall encounter, from the staunchly catholic Sir Thomas More to the fiercely protestant reformer John Bale, from the satirist John Skelton to the humourist John Heywood are equally fascinating.

The emphasis will be on gaining an understanding of how these writers and their texts both responded to and contributed to the political culture of the reign of Henry VIII. Reading literary texts alongside a variety of visual images and historical documents, we will explore how poets, dramatists and prose writers used their work to explore the moral issues and social tensions exposed by Henry VIII's rejection of his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, his break with the papacy and establishment of the Royal Supremacy, and the growth of what many perceived to be the king's tyrannical domination of the realm. We will explore how many of the forms and modes of writing that would form the staple repertoire of English literature in the age of Shakespeare were actually forged out of the fierce struggles to promote or resist royal power in the court of King Henry.
Course description Seminar Schedule

Week 1 The New Reign: The Accession poems and More's Epigrams
Week 2 Humanism and Idealism: Thomas More's The History of Richard III, Erasmus, The Education of a Christian Prince, Machiavelli, The Prince
Week 3 Thomas More's Utopia and Henry Medwall's Fulgens and Lucrece.
Week 4 Unruly Women: John Skelton's poetry and Sir Thomas Elyot's Defence of Good Women.
Week 5 Corruption in the Royal Household: Skelton's Magnificence, the King's Minions, Hall's Chronicle, The Eltham Ordinances
Week 6 NO CLASSES - Flexible Learning Week
Week 7 The Ascendancy of Cardinal Wolsey: Skelton's Speak Parrot, Colin Clout and Why Come Ye Not to Court?, George Cavendish's Life of Wolsey
Week 8 The Early Reformation: Simon Fish, The Supplication for the Beggars; Roper's Life of More; More's Dialogue Concerning Heresies; John Bale's Three Laws
Week 10 John Heywood, The Play of the Weather, the Acts of Supremacy and Appeals
Week 11 Sir Thomas Elyot, The Book Named the Governor and the Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger
Week 12 Wyatt's satires and lyrics, Surrey, Poems, Henry┐s poems and letters to Anne Boleyn
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  12
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One Coursework Essay of 2,500 words: 30%
One time-limited Final Essay of 3000 words: 60%
Class Participation Assessment: 10%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss critically the central features of literary and political culture at the Court of Henry
  2. Discuss the cultural background to key early Tudor literary and political texts
  3. Analyse Tudor texts in a sophisticated and informed way
  4. Appreciate the complexities of distinguishing between 'literary' and 'non-literary' texts in this period.
Reading List
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited to 15, with priority given to students taking degrees involving English or Scottish Literature and, when run as a Third Year course, Visiting Students placed by the Admissions Office. Students not in these categories need the written approval of the Head of English Literature before enrolling. In the case of excess applications places will be decided by ballot.
Additional Class Delivery Information 1 hour(s) per week for 11 week(s). Autonomous Learning Group one hour a week at times to be arranged.
KeywordsENLI10296 Writing,Tyranny,Henry VIII
Course organiserProf Greg Walker
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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