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Copy of QS 212: Ideas and Expression

Part 1: Pre-Class Reading

While you have become accustomed to using books, articles, and other secondary and tertiary sources for your research assignments, professional researchers also study primary sources located in archives, museums, special collections, and other cultural repositories.  Today you will have an opportunity to learn more about the English Renaissance.   In addition to viewing digitized materials, you will also learn how to search for resources held by cultural repositories around the world.

Before you begin, read the following (including the appendix):

Also, please watch the short presentation about cultural repositories below:

Part 2: Group & Topic Assignment

You will be assigned a topic to research from the following list: 

  1. How did the Black Death (plague) change England in the 14th century?
  2. What was the outcome of the battle between Queen Elizabeth I's royal navy and the Spanish Armada in 1588?  Why was it significant?
  3. What evidence is given for the argument that Christopher Marlowe was a heretic and troublemaker in the 1590s?
  4. How did the Act of Supremacy (1534) change King Henry VIII's relationship with his people?
  5. How were William Shakespeare's plays received by critics during his lifetime (1564-1616)?
  6. What was the significance of Geoffrey Chaucer's work?  (when reviewing primary sources, consider how the importance of his work is reflected visually in editions released after his death, specifically in the 15th and 16th centuries)
  7. How would you describe the architecture of the Hampton Court Palace?  (for part 5, search for information regarding the architecture of the palace).

Please record all of your answers for this assignment and send it to your professor (

Part 3: Background Information

Take a few minutes to search for background information using the internet to answer your question. In the body of the email, type a sentence or two that briefly answers your question.

Part 4: Review A Primary Source Related To Your Topic

The following list provides a primary source that should be reviewed for each topic.  Once you have examined the original text, open the transcription/translation of the document as indicated in the parenthetical instructions.  After reading the transcription/translation, record in the body of the email how this document helps to answer your assigned question.

  1. Chronicle of the Black Death (click the red Back link underneath the image at the top of the screen and scroll down to read the transcript)
  2. Letter of Sir Francis Drake to Queen Elizabeth I dated August 8, 1588 (read the transcript by clicking this link)
  3. Accusations against Christopher Marlowe by Richard Baines and others (use the green "View images from this item" button to read the original before clicking the transcript button below the image)
  4. Act of Supremacy 1534 (read the transcript by clicking this link)
  5. Palladis tamia 1598 (if needed, read the transcript by clicking this link)
  6. The Canterbury Tales (click the red Back link underneath the image at the top of the screen and scroll down to read the transcript)
  7. The King's Bedchamber, the Great Hall, and the West Front (you are just looking at images for this step, so reflect on what these images show you about the architecture)

Part 5: Searching For Materials Within Cultural Repositories

This portion of the assignment focuses on how to find primary resources on a topic within a cultural repository.  You are not required to view the actual materials for this section (as most won't have online surrogates), but rather you should identify collections of interest if you were researching this topic as an academic researcher. 

For students working on Chaucer, conduct a search of the Special Collections of the University of Glasgow using their catalog.

For students working on Shakespeare, browse the online exhibition of the Folger Shakespeare Library titled "Contemporary accounts and critical responses to plays."

For all other topics, search the catalog of the National Archive (UK).

Regardless of where you search or browse, record in the body of the email any collection or item that you find that is relevant to your topic and the cultural repository that owns the collection/item.  HINT: Use the date limiter to focus your search on the timeframe of your topic.‚Äč

Part 6: Finding Appropriate Archives To Conduct Research

For this last section, please broaden your topic (just use plague, Elizabeth I, Christopher Marlowe, Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Hampton Court Palace) and expand your search to any collection (regardless of the time it was published).   Keeping these instructions in mind,

  1. Open ArchivesGrid in a new browser tab.
  2. Conduct a search using the box in the upper right hand side of the screen for your topic.
  3. If you receive too many results, consider narrowing your search by opening the Summary View tab at the top of the results screen.  This tab allows you to limit your results by topic, archive location, etc.
  4. In the list view tab, you can browse the collections that match your search criteria.  Find three collections that look interesting.  Record in the body of the email the location of the collection, the collection name, how you think the collection would be useful for a research project, and if there are any “related resources” that provide more information about what is actually in each collection.
  5. Click the contact information tab and see if you can find information about what services might be available to access the resources off site.  Record any information you find in the body of the email, but feel free to move on if you don’t find anything within a minute or two of browsing the website.