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Courses / Modules / ENGL3058 Radical England: Literature and Crisis in the Seventeenth Century

Radical England: Literature and Crisis in the Seventeenth Century

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 6
Module lead
Alice Hunt
Academic year

Module overview

The seventeenth century was a time of extreme change and political instability in England. In 1649, after years of civil war, Charles I, the King of England, was beheaded on Whitehall in front of a crowd of thousands. England, overnight, became a republic and then, under Oliver Cromwell, a Protectorate. In 1660, it all changed again when Charles II came home from exile and monarchy was restored. This module explores how English men and women wrote about their world as it was turning upside down. Robert Herrick wrote poems about illicit pleasures while Katherine Philips mourned her dead king, lamenting 'this scorching age'. Andrew Marvell wrote panegyrics for Oliver Cromwell and William Davenant staged England's first ever opera, despite the government’s ban on playgoing, drinking and ‘such like wickedness and abominations’. And when John Milton saw the English republic fall apart, he sat down to write his masterpiece, Paradise Lost. Political pamphlets and newspapers flourished, radical religious sects such as the Quakers were born, and men and women prophesied about the state of the country, and their uncertain future.

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