Ruthin School's Royal Charter issued in 1595. Image courtesy of Ruthin School, Denbighshire, North Wales ©Ruthin School.

Queen Elizabeth I: Language, Legacy, and Policy

Author Brenda R. Lewis wrote 2003, "Elizabeth I was the first English Queen to lend her name to an entire age. But in the half-century known for its pageantry and glamour, things were not always as they seemed. Queen Elizabeth and her times have left behind an extraordinary image of a dazzling era of excitement and achievement, nearly superhuman heroes and daring deeds, with the Queen, larger than life, radiating inspiration at the centre of it all" (British Heritage, 2003).

Meanwhile, historian Susan Doran analyzed what it meant to be a female monarch in a male world and how Queen Elizabeth responded to the challenges (History Today, 2003). She explores the truth behind a BBC documentary that concluded, "Elizabeth I was the ultimate British feminist icon."

So who was Elizabeth I? How did gender, religion, family, and politics affect her life and her reign? Was she powerful? Was she persuasive? How did she use language and imagery to project strength or to reveal vulnerability? What are modern women to make of Quen Elizabeth? Was she a feminist icon, a successful leader, a master politician, or none of the above? It is up to you to decide for yourself. 

In order to anaswer these and other questions about Elizabeth, we will be participating in a series of projects over the course of the year. The overall project seeks to explore sources related to Elizabeth I. Specifically, primary sources will be divided into three spheres that consider audience, scope, purpose, and meaning (see below). We will also use digital media to assess and document student work as part of DH@HH, which will host and publish your project portfolios. Your work will add to the exisiting academic scholarship on Queen Elizabeth I. 

Learning Outcomes

1. You will be able to demonstrate critical thinking skills by analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating multiple sources.
2. You will develop the ability to distinguish between fact v. fiction, reality v. perception, and meaning v. motive.
3. You will produce well researched written work that engages with both primary sources and secondary literature.
4. You will develop an informed familiarity with the evolution of the English language.
5. You will employ a full range of digital techniques and methods that uphold the highest standards of scholarship.
6. You will develop an ability to convey verbally through discussion, debate, and presentation.
7. You will demonstrate a new level of understanding in terms of cause and effect, compare/contrast, and change over time.

Using the Site

All sources can be accessed using the "Collections" tab located in the menu bar. To access specific project components, sources, and instructions click on the desired thematic tab (also located at the top of the page).

Project Components

1.  Transcription: You will read four original handwritten primary sources and then divide into groups to transcribe one of the four sources. Class transcriptions will be compared to published transcriptions. We will have a Harkness discussion on process and discrepancies. You will write a blog reflection, which will form the basis of an Omeka exhibit.

2.  Cicero's Rhetorical Analysis: You will read letters/speeches and analyze the use of logos/ethos/pathos as part of the Ciceronian order of arguments. The final product will be an essay, which will form the basis of an Omeka collection and exhibit. You will be responsible for inputting Dublin Core data for proper citation and scholarship.

3.  Podcasts & Portraits: The class will analyze four portraits of Queen Elizabeth. Then in groups, you will make a podcast that provides a detailed "text" analysis of your assigned painting. Each group will discuss a different portrait. Podcasts will be represented as a collection and exhibit in Omeka.

4.  Elizabeth Today: Pick a modern woman in politics and read a private source, a public source, and analyze an image. You will present findings and analysis via oral presentation with Google Slides. Presentation files will form the basis of an exhibit in Omeka.

Primary Sources

You will use both visual and textual primary sources designated into three categories. These can all be accessed directly using the "Primary Sources" tab in the menu bar.

Private (letters):
  • Dedication of French translation from Elizabeth for Katherine Parr
  • Letter to Protector about her Governess
  • Letter from Elizabeth to her brother King Edward VI before his Death
  • Tide Letter from Elizabeth to her sister Queen Mary
Public (speeches):
  • Speech to Troops at Tilbury
  • Speech on Religion
  • Speech on Marriage
  • Speech on Succession and Marriage
Visual (images):
  • Pelican Portrait
  • Ermine Portrait
  • Armada Portrait
  • Rainbow Portrait