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You are here Undergraduate > Single Honors History > HI3401 The Elizabethans and their World: Social Change and Cultural Development in England, 1550 - 1610

HI3401 The Elizabethans and their World: Social Change and Cultural Development in England, 1550 - 1610

Between the death of Henry VIII and the death of Elizabeth I England underwent a series of profound social, political and cultural developments. An underdeveloped country on the verge of crisis was transformed into one of Europe's most expanding economies.
  • Module Coordinator:
    • Professor Ciaran Brady
  • Duration:
    • All year 
  • Contact Hours:
    • 3 hours per week
  • Weighting:
    • 20 ECTS
  • Assessment:
    • 40% essay, 60% examination

A fragile monarchy on an off-shore island became one of the greatest powers in international relations, and one of the furthest cultural backwaters of Europe became the seat of the last flowering of the Renaissance. Such massive changes came accompanied by equally great and complex problems. Economic development widened social divisions and sharpened social conflict. Religious Reformation affirmed national unity but provoked widespread dissent, and England's emergence as a principal defender of Protestantism forced it into increasing conflict with the other great European power of the sixteenth century, Hapsburg Spain. It was in this context that the extraordinary intellectual and literary flowering of the later sixteenth century took place. This module aims to set the Elizabethan Renaissance amidst these broader social, political and ideological developments, and to examine its principal achievements in poetry, prose and drama in relation to the massive body of political commentaries, social polemics, religious exhortations, histories, and stories, engravings, maps and emblem books through which the Elizabethans as a whole attempted to comprehend and control their changing world.

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  • Recognise the principal historical, social and political events and developments in the period 1550-1610
  • Identify and classify the main interpretative trends and problems of the period
  • Construct an individual reading programme among the leading interpretative accounts of the period
  • Undertake an advanced analysis of several primary sources relating to the principal interpretative problems of the period
  • Apply different techniques of evaluation and interpretation to these sources
  • Critique the leading scholarly contributions to the field in the light of those sources
  • Provide an individual synthesis based on a reading of the primary sources and secondary commentaries
  • Defend such a synthesis in written and oral presentations.