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EN121 Medieval to Renaissance English Literature

Convenor for 2017-18: Dr Marco Nievergelt (term 1) and Dr Sarah Wood (terms 2 and 3)

This module will study a number of works of medieval and renaissance literature in the context of contemporary beliefs and historical and social developments. The module will be taught by means of language classes (first term only) to introduce students to Middle English; lectures on the historical, cultural and critical context; and seminars to discuss particular texts. Students will be required to write two non-assessed essays and one non-assessed critical commentary.


Advance Information for Students taking this course in 2017-18

Lectures will be on Tuesdays at 12 in the Arts Cinema in terms 1 and 2, and in OC0.03 (Oculus Building) in Term 3. *Please note that the Lecture in week 7 has moved to Thursday 16th November, at 5pm in OC105, the Oculus Building*

Please make sure that you attend this lecture on Tuesday of week 1, when you will be given more information about the course. Before going to the lecture you should check your timetable to find out the times and tutors for your Medieval to Renaissance Seminar (which will begin in week 2).

For weeks 2-5 of the autumn term there will be medieval translation classes in addition to the weekly seminars to help you with reading Middle English. It is important that you attend these classes.

Set books

NB see the Module Information page for details of which selections from these books you will need to read each week; we will not be reading all the works in these books!

  • Poems Of The Pearl Manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. by M. Andrew and R. Waldron, 5th edn (Liverpool/Exeter, 2007). **IMPORTANT NOTE: Please ensure that you buy this edition, which contains the original medieval text, and NOT The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript in Modern English Translation (2013) or any other edition.**
  • Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer (ed.) L. Benson (Oxford) (see Module Information for details of which texts to read)
  • Medieval drama coursepack. This will be distributed towards the end of Term 1; electronic copies of the texts can also be found here.
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature. The Sixteenth Century, the Early Seventeenth Century. Volume B. (ed.) S Greenblatt et al. Revised 9th edition, 2012. **NB In 2018-19 we will be using the 10th edition.**

Copies of these books have been ordered for the University Bookshop.

Suggested summer background reading:

  • Maurice Keen, English Society in the Later Middle Ages 1348-1500 (Penguin, 1990)
  • J.A. Burrow, Medieval Writers and their Work, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 2008)
  • John Guy, Tudor England (1990)

Works studied will include:

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Chaucer, selected Canterbury Tales
  • Selected Medieval drama
  • Sir Thomas More's Utopia
  • Renaissance sonnets and lyrics by Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, Marlowe etc.
  • Spenser, The Faerie Queene, book 1

Venus and Adonis