1. Gender Relations
  2. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum
  3. Selected Writings” by Margaret Cavendish
  4. Selected Poems” by Katherine Philips


Discussion 7: Many Lives, Many Masters

Suzannah Lipscomb, in the video link, gives a brief overview of the way women, and women’s bodies, were perceived during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. In what way does what she is saying in the video connect with the texts you have read so far in the course (including “Gender Relations”)? How might this perception have affected the writing style and voice of the authors you will be reading in this module? After you have answered these general questions, choose one of the following to respond to as well:

  1. Joseph Swetnam’s Arraignmentprovoked the response by Rachel Speght in Muzzle. Summarize and evaluate each argument for its rhetorical effectiveness (in terms of ethos, logos, and pathos). Who is the audience? Which was more effective and why?
  2. William Gouge’s manual Of Domesticall Dutiesis a “conduct book” common to the Tudor and Stuart periods; in this case, offering advice for marital life. What is Gouge’s main argument and is it well-supported? What does this text tell us about the evolving institution of marriage and the role of women in 17th century England?


Discussion 8: Women at the Margins

The four women whose writings you have read this module (Speght, Lanyer, Cavendish and Philips) are all writing in very different styles and genres. Does anything bind their works together? Is there the suggestion of a common experience here? In terms of critical acclaim, Katherine Philips was the most respected of these writers among her contemporaries – why do you think this is?  What, if anything, makes her poems different from others in this module? After answering these general questions, please select two from the list below:

  1. Research a bit on Amelia Lanyer as a possible author of Shakespeare’s works (thisis a good place to start). What evidence points to this possibility? Do you find it convincing? Why/why not?
  2. Margaret Cavendish was undoubtedly an eccentric and flamboyant figure of her day; did this detract from her writings or is this the very reason we remember her today?
  3. Katherine Philips’ “A Married State” humorously praises the life of the unmarried (she reportedly wrote it at age 14), “The Double Marriage of King Charles” is a political assault on anti-royalists, while her poems to Hector are testaments to the pain of child loss which was quite common in her day. Where is she most effective – as a satirist, polemicist or memoirist?




  1. Contexts: The Wider World” by various writers
  2. Oroonokoby Aphra Behn
  3. Gulliver’s Travels(PartI, “A Voyage to Lilliput” and Part IV, “A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms”) by Jonathan Swift
  4. The Interesting Narrative of the Life by Olaudah Equiano
  5. Writing Project 3: Assignment



Discussion 9: The Wider World

After reading the “Contexts: The Wider World,” which of the texts seems the most important and why? How are the descriptions of other cultures influenced by English society/customs and expectations? What stereotypes seem prevalent here? Which do you think still live with us today? After answering these general questions, please select at least 3 from the list below:

  1. What is Richard Hakluyt’s purpose in assembling and editing The Principle Navigations? What arguments does he make to support this purpose?
  2. In The Geographical History of Africa, Leo Africanus describes the negative and positive attributions of North Africans (“Barberie”) – what are these? In what ways are his depictions of Africans still relevant today?
  3. Thomas Hariot’s Report on Virginiahas been described as a “complex, unsettling Elizabethan travel narrative.” What about it is “unsettling” and what about it is “complex”?
  4. Michel de Montaigne’s essay “On Cannibals” is considered to be one of the first arguments based on the idea of “Cultural Relativism” (click for a definition). In what ways is this so and do you agree with his argument? Why/why not?
  5. Why do you think Rowlandson’s work accepted for publication even though it was unusual for women to be permitted publication in Puritan New England?







Discussion 10: Reckoning with the Past and Imagining the Future

After completing all the readings for this module, what, in your opinion, is the most important legacy of British colonialism? Which of the major three readings (by Behn, Swift and Equiano) was the most significant to you and why? Finally, as this is our last discussion, which of the readings this semester has been the most relevant or meaningful to you and why?