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Pathway 2: Early Modern Studies, 1300-1700

The MA in English Literature: Early Modern Studies, 1300-1700 pathway offers you the opportunity to explore the culture of the English Middle Ages and Renaissance within its European framework.

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The Early Modern Studies pathway invites you to study the vibrant culture of Europe between 1300 and 1700. Our approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on aspects of history, religion, and visual culture from the period as well as on its literature. In order to develop your understanding of pre-modern documentary and material culture, our teaching involves close study of original manuscripts and early printed texts and of early objects.

Working alongside distinguished scholars in English Literature you will be asked to think about what we mean by the terms ‘Medieval’ and ‘Early Modern’, and to formulate conclusions using a profoundly interdisciplinary approach: you will examine the literature, history, religion, visual culture, social relations, and politics of the period. Imaginative and ambitious themed modules enable you to study some of the most influential writers working between the 14th and 17th centuries within their cultural and historical context: Chaucer, Erasmus, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Montaigne, Donne, and Milton amongst others. You’ll construct a historical understanding of the key movements, debates, and ideas that shaped the period in preparation for researching and writing your dissertation.

The early modern team forms a large and vibrant community, including more than a dozen professors, lecturers, and post-doctoral researchers. Their expertise includes cutting-edge work on medieval and Renaissance drama, early-modern news networks, the history of maps and mapping, the relations between science and literature, prison-writing, early-modern scholarly editing, the digital humanities, and the concept of authorship. What unites their work is an emphasis on the archive. This is reflected at the very heart of the Early Modern Studies Pathway.

You will be trained to a very high level in research skills and you’ll get hands-on experience of working with a variety of early modern items, with access to otherwise uncatalogued and unexplored materials. You’ll work with rare books and manuscripts during this training. Throughout, you’ll be considering the impact of developments in manuscript culture and the new technologies in printing and publishing in the period.

You may also opt to take a cognate elective module offered by the Schools in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and by other Colleges of the University of London.


Compulsory modules

  • Writing in the Pre-Modern World
  • The Material Text, 1300-1700
  • Dissertation

Option modules:

You choose two modules from a list of options that changes from year to year (one can be from the range of modules offered across the MA English Studies curriculum). In 2017-2018 we hope to offer the following. If members of our specialist research staff win research funding it will mean that their module won’t run, so for that reason this list is indicative only. 

You may, subject to availability and the approval of the School, take one of your option modules from across a range offered by other Schools in the Humanities and Social Science Faculty, or from other Colleges of the University of London.

In addition to taught modules, we run a range of research seminars to which all MA students are invited. Some of these are linked to our interdisciplinary Research Centres, such as the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, the Centre for Religion and Literature in English and the Centre for the History of the Emotions. Others are collaborations with other institutions, such as the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar. With visiting speakers from across the world, these seminars are an opportunity to meet other postgraduate students and members of staff and to learn about the latest developments in research.

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