Renaissance literature

Editing a Renaissance play

Editing a Renaissance play

“…this has proved to be a module which enthuses and engages students; indeed some of them become quite passionate about ‘their’ play.”


Welcome to the Renaissance area of the Subject Centre website. This set of pages contains materials about the teaching of non-dramatic Renaissance (or Early Modern) literature in HE departments of English.

As well as information about projects and events funded by the Subject Centre over the past ten years, you will find here pages on history, the canon and writing exercises. A collection of pithy seminar tips, extracted from our T3 database, should help provide inspiration on those difficult Monday mornings. More extensive descriptions of teaching methods can be found in our Case Studies archive (see sidebar on the right). There is also a page of links and references. You might also like to search HumBox, an exciting repository of humanities teaching materials.

We hope you find these pages useful, whatever your level of teaching experience.

Personalising the Renaissance

Renaissance texts can sometimes–surprising as it may seem–have a dismaying effect on undergraduates: to many, the language, politics, social attitudes and religious beliefs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries will seem very remote from their own day-to-day concerns. How best, then, to communicate our own excitement about the period and develop the Renaissance specialists of the future?

One approach is to design teaching activities sympathetic to the experience of the individual student. Students can be encouraged to work outwards from their own responses in a number of different ways. Possibilities described in more detail on the Subject Centre website include:

  • Asking students to write first-person texts such as response statements or learning journals to explore their immediate responses as the basis for their work on a text.
  • Structuring online message-board discussion in such a way as to allow students easily to compare notes on the initial reading of a text.
  • Small-scale creative writing exercises.
  • Opportunities for students to research topics for themselves. There are several ways of providing these: by setting individualised pre-seminar research tasks, by finding creative ways for students to explore archival texts in EEBO and by getting them to work on group projects.
  • Introducing students to material objects from the period: printed books and manuscripts (perhaps on a field trip to a local archive); other artefacts (on a visit to a local museum); local architecture, etc.