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EN121/EN2J5/EN3J5 Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Convenor: Dr Sarah WoodLink opens in a new window

Module information

This module will study a number of works of medieval and early modern literature in the context of contemporary beliefs and historical and social developments. The module will be taught by means of lectures on the historical, cultural and critical context; seminars to discuss particular texts; and (in weeks 2-5 of term 1 only) supplementary classes to help develop your skills in reading texts written in earlier forms of English.

Works studied include: Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; medieval and early modern drama; travel writing; poems by Sidney, Spenser, and Mary Wroth.

All materials for the module will be supplied on or linked from these webpages. Please use the tabs above or the links below for further information.

Books to buy for 2022-23 academic year

IMPORTANT NOTE: retailers may take two or three weeks to order these books for you. You are strongly advised to place your orders in advance of the start of term.

  • The Norton Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, ed. by David Lawton (Norton, 2019) OR The Canterbury Tales: Seventeen Tales and The General Prologue, ed. V. A. Kolve and Glending Olson, 3rd edition (Norton, 2018) OR The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson, 3rd edition (OUP, 2008). Please ensure that you acquire ONE of these three editions for your study of The Canterbury Tales in term 1, weeks 1-5.
  • Poems Of The Pearl Manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. by M. Andrew and R. Waldron, 5th edn (Exeter, 2007), ISBN978-0-859-89790-7. You will need this book for term 1, weeks 7-8. **IMPORTANT NOTE: please ensure that you do NOT purchase The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript in Modern English Prose Translation by the same editors and publisher, as this version does not include the original Middle English text that we will be studying.**
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume B: The Sixteenth Century The Early Seventeenth Century, ed. by Stephen Greenblatt et al, 10th edition (2018) ISBN 9780393603033. You will need this book for your work in term 2.
  • Other primary texts for the module will be provided in digital formats.

Suggested summer background reading

  • J.A. Burrow, Medieval Writers and their Work, 2nd edn (Oxford, 2008) or Thorlac Turville-Petre, Reading Middle English Literature (Oxford, 2007)
  • Maurice Keen, English Society in the Later Middle Ages 1348-1500 (Penguin, 1990) or Chris Wickham, Medieval Europe (Yale, 2016)
  • You might like to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in the translation that comes with your copy of the Middle English text (see details above), or to read The General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales. You can find it in the editions listed above, or with an interlinear modern English translation on the Harvard Geoffrey Chaucer websiteLink opens in a new window.

Reading list (coming soon!)

The reading list provides details of the required reading from the primary texts for each week, as well as recommended further reading. You are expected to select relevant secondary sources from this list when researching your essays.

For the 2021-22 reading list for students resitting assessments over the summer, please click here: Reading list 2021-22.Link opens in a new window