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The University of Southampton
International Summer School

The World Turned Upside Down: Writing the English Revolution

Charles I’s execution
Charles I’s execution

England in the seventeenth century was a place of radical ideas, of violence and fear, as well as excitement and beauty. In 1649, after years of civil war, the king, Charles I, was beheaded outside Whitehall Palace in front of a crowd of thousands. In the years that followed, England was governed as a Commonwealth, as an experiment in Republicanism. Ten years later, in 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne. England has remained a monarchy ever since.  

On this course we will explore how writers and poets wrote about their world as it was turning upside down. Looking at a range of texts, artworks, and even music, we will think about how kings and politicians used culture to secure their authority and demonstrate their power. At the same time, we will discover how ordinary people felt about the momentous transformations England experienced in the aftermath of civil war. This was a time when newspapers flourished, when women penned political pamphlets as well as men, and when disenfranchised citizens could write books that challenged the status quo and called for social revolution.

The academic organising this topic is Dr Stephen Watkins, tutor in English.

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