Writing the Revolution 1640 - 1720

PLEASE NOTE: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
04 October 2018


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA QRF9 Literature and Modern Languages,
BA Q2R9 Literature with Modern Languages

Module description

The revolutionary period covered by this half module saw the abolition of censorship, an explosion of publishing, the airing of formerly repressed opinions, a civil war, the execution of the king, Cromwell’s short-lived ‘Commonwealth’, the restoration of the monarchy, the re-opening of the theatres – and through it all, the appearance of radically new kinds of writing. Thus in addition to classic lyrical poetry (Marvell, Herrick, Jonson), we find radical political pamphleteering (Milton, Lilburne, Winstanley), informal but profound public discussion (The Putney Debates), political satire (Dryden), libertine verse (Rochester), Restoration drama (Wycherley, Southerne), confidential diary (Pepys), religious allegory for the working man (Bunyan) and religious epic for the failed revolutionary (Milton). Finally there is the creative journalism of Daniel Defoe. For the first time in England, a profound ideological split opened up between cavalier and roundhead, Anglican and non-conformist, hedonistic aristocrat and earnest tradesman. It is arguably still with us (Jeremy Corbyn is regularly compared to a puritan by the conservative press). The cultural gulf was spanned by the tensile irony of Marvell. Finally it is complicated by Behn’s sentimental critique of slavery and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, a realer-than-life fantasy of abandonment, solitude and colonialism in which a lapsed puritan finds himself and becomes a slave-owner.


The aims of the module are:

1. To convey an idea of the wealth of writing from 1640 to 1720
2. To have students engage closely with specific examples of such writing
3. To develop an appreciation of the close interrelationship between historical conditions and literary culture

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of a wide variety of writing in all genres from 1640 to 1720
2. Analyse and describe the processes out of which specific literary genres were formed
3. Critically evaluate and analyse particular literary works with an informed understanding of the historical period
4. Plan and deliver a researched group presentation on their chosen topic
5. Research, structure and write an essay.

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

No information available.

Module information

Coursework Assessment for 2018/19:

Essay (2,000 - 2,500 words) (70%), Participation (5%), Presentation Supporting Documents (25%)

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly 2-hour seminars


  • Selected poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester,
  • Robertson, Geoffrey; Baker, Philip. (2007) The Putney debates: the Levellers, London: Verso.
  • Pepys, Samuel; Latham, Robert. (2003) The diaries of Samuel Pepys: a selection, London: Penguin.
  • Milton, John; Orgel, Stephen; Goldberg, Jonathan. (2008) Paradise lost, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Defoe, Daniel. (1993) Robinson Crusoe, Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth.
  • Marvell, Andrew; Donno, Elizabeth Story. (©2005) The complete poems, London: Penguin.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Professor John Gillies, Dr Patricia Gillies, Dr Deirdre Serjeantson
LiFTS General Office, email: Telephone: 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 23 hours, 23 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.