Seventeenth-Century Women's Writing ENGLIT5102

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

Early modern women writers have often been overlooked, or examined independently of their male counterparts as having different, more domestic concerns. They are rarely compared with major canonical figures such as Milton and Marvell, or viewed as key players in the political upheavals of the time. Yet women were active as prophets and pamphleteers in or around the radical groups of the period - the Diggers, Levellers, Quakers and Ranters - and played a prominent part in both royalist and republican causes, not just in England but in the wider Atlantic Archipelago. This course will follow the active role of women writers through the writings they produced, and the controversies they engaged in, often answering, or prompting, or inspiring male interlocutors. 


10 x 2 hour weekly seminars

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





One essay of 4,000 words (80%);

One short piece of writing of 1,000 words or one presentation of 10 minutes (20%).

Course Aims

The aim of this course is to:

■ Illustrate the importance of women's writing in seventeenth-century literature, politics and culture.

■ Familiarise students with a range of female authors working in a variety of literary forms.

■ Encourage students to read literary texts of the period in the light of questions of gender, power and representation.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


1. Explain their understanding of the significance of women's writing in seventeenth-century politics, literature and culture.

Identify and evaluate the historical, cultural and formal specificity of seventeenth-century women's writing.

3. Engage in further research in any of the issues of gender, power and representation raised by seventeenth-century women's writing. 

4. Demonstrate in written work and presentations their familiarity with wider work in seventeenth-century literature and culture.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.