Convenor: Dr Sarah Wood
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 lectures on the historical, cultural and critical context; seminars to discuss particular texts; and (in weeks 2-5 of term 1 only) supplementary lectures and close reading assignments 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; Thomas More, Utopia; travel writing; and sonnets and narrative poems by Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare.
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.
- Course outline
- Lecture list and links to the online lectures, which will be posted weekly throughout terms 1 and 2.
- Supplementary lecture materials on Reading Middle English (these will be posted in weeks 2-5 of Term 1).
- The Reading List (to which you will have access when enrolled as a student) sets out the required primary readings for each week of the module, together with recommended further reading from which you may make a selection depending on your interests. See the box below for more information about suggested summer reading and the books that you will need to buy.
- Resources for study, including guidance on beginning independent research.
- Information about assessments.
Books to buy
NB Please note that this information relates to the 2020-21 academic year. Updated information for 2021-22 will be published here in July. Please do not purchase any books for 2021-22 at this stage!
- The Norton Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, ed. by David Lawton (2019) ISBN 9780393643503.
- 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.
*PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU BUY THIS EDITION AND NOT ANY OTHER. You should NOT purchase The Poems of the Pearl Manuscript in Modern English Prose Translation by the same editors and publisher, as this 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
- Other primary texts for the module will be provided in electronic copies.
Suggested summer background reading:
- In term 1, we will be reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in 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). We will be studying the text in the original Middle English, but you are encouraged to read the translation that comes with this book over the summer. Your copy will contain a code giving you access to the translation online.
- 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)
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.
Studying away from campus
For advice about access to books and other Library materials while studying away from campus, please click here.