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Middle English Romance

Primary texts

A. Laskaya & E. Salisbury (eds), The Midde English Breton Lays, TEAMS (Kalamazoo, 2001).

E.E. Foster (ed.), Amis and Amiloun, Robert of Cisyle, and Sir Amadace, TEAMS (Kalamazoo, 2nd edn, 2007).

R.B. Herzman, G. Drake & E. Salisbury (eds), Four Romances of England, TEAMS (Kalamazoo, 1999).

Secondary criticism

C.J. Saunders, Cultural Encounters in the Romance of Medieval England (2005)

C.J. Saunders, Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval English Romance (2010)

C.J. Saunders, The Forest of Medieval Romance: Avernus, Broceliande, Arden (Brewer, 1993)

N. McDonald, Pulp Fictions of Medieval England: essays in popular romance (2004)

L. Ashe, I. Djordjevic, J. Weiss eds. The Exploitations of Medieval Romance (2010)

R. Purdie, M. Cichon eds. Medieval Romance, Medieval Contexts (2011)

N. Cartlidge, Boundaries in Medieval Romance (2008)

W.R.J. Barron, English Medieval Romance, (Longman, 1987)

S. Crane, Insular Romance: Politics, Faith and Culture in Anglo-Norman and Middle English Literature (Univ of California, 1986)

C. Fewster, Traditionality and Genre in Middle English Romance (Brewer, 1987)

S. Knight, 'The Social Function of the Middle English Romance', in D. Aers (ed.), Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology & History, (New York, 1986), pp. 99-122. Available as a scan here:

D. Mehl, The Middle English Romances of the 13th and 14th centuries (London, 1968), pp. 146-52.

D. Pearsall, 'The Development of Middle English Romance', Medieval Studies 27 (1965), 91-116.

L.C. Ramsey, Chivalric Romances: Popular Literature in Medieval England (Indiana, 1983)

P. Strohm, 'The Origin and Meaning of Middle English Romaunce', Genre 10 (1977), 1-28.

Sir Orfeo and Sir Gowther

C. Bullock-Davies, 'The Form of the Breton Lay', Medium Aevum 42 (1973), 18-31.

P.B.R. Doob, Nebuchadnezzar's Children: Conventions of Madness in Middle English Literature (Yale, 1974), pp. 158-207.

J.B. Friedman, Orpheus in the Middle Ages (Harvard, 1970).

P. Grimaldi, 'Sir Orfeo as Celtic Folk-hero, Christian pilgrim and medieval king', in M.W. Bloomfield (ed.), Allegory, Myth and Symbol (Harvard, 1981), pp. 147-61.

S. Lerer, 'Artifice and Artistry in Sir Orfeo', Speculum 60 (1985), 92-109.

R.M. Liuzza, 'Sir Orfeo: Sources, Traditions and the Poetics of Performance', Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 21 (1991), 269-84.

F. Riddy, 'The Uses of the Past in Sir Orfeo', Yearbook of English Studies 6 (1976), 5-15.

J. Rider, 'Receiving Orpheus in the Middle Ages: Allegorization, remythification and Sir Orfeo' Papers on Language and Literature 24 (1988), 343-66.

E.M. Bradstock, 'Sir Gowther: secular hagiography or hagiographical romance or neither?', Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 59 (1983) 26-47.

A. Hopkins, The Sinful Knights: a study of Middle English Penitential Romances (Oxford, 1990), pp. 144-78.

S. Marchalonis, 'Sir Gowther; the Process of a Romance', Chaucer Review 6 (1971/72), 14-29.

Sir Degare

C. Colopy, 'Sir Degare: A Fairy Tale Oedipus', Pacific Coast Philology 17 (1982), 31-39.

L.H. Loomis, Medieval Romance in England (Oxford, 1924, rpt. 1960), pp. 301-5.

B.A. Rosenberg, 'The Three Tales of Sir Degare', Neuphilologische mitteilungen 76 (1975), 39-51.

Amis and Amiloun

D.R. Baldwin, 'Amis and Amiloun: the Testing of Treuthe', Papers on Language and Literature 16 (1980), 353-65.

S. Dannenbaum, 'Insular Tradition in the Story of Amis and Amiloun', Neophilologus 67 (1983), 611-22.

S. Delany, 'A, A and B: Coding Same-Sex Union in Amis and Amiloun', in N. MacDonald (ed.), Pulp Fictions of Medieval England (Manchester, 2004), pp. 63-81.

J.C. Ford, 'Contrasting the identical: differentiation of the 'indistinguishable' characters of Amis and Amiloun', Neophilologus 86 (2002), 311-23.

-----, 'Merry Married Brothers: Wedded friendship, Lovers' language and Male Matrimonials in Two Middle English Romances', Medieval Forum 3 (2003).

K. Hume, 'Amis and Amiloun and the Aesthetics of Middle English Romance', Studies in Philology 70 (1973), 19-41.

J.E. Jost, 'Hearing the Female Voice: Transgression in Amis and Amiloun', Medieval Perspectives, 10 (1995), 116-32.

O. Kratins, 'The Middle English Amis and Amiloun: Chivalric Romance or Secular Hagiography', PMLA, 81 (1966), 347-54.

Havelok the Dane

N.M. Bradbury, 'The Traditional Origins of Havelok the Dane', Studies in Philology, 90 (1993), 115-42.

J. Halverson, 'Havelok the Dane and Society', Chaucer Review, 6 (1971), 142-51.

R.W. Hanning, 'Havelok the Dane: Structure, Symbols, Meaning' Studies in Philology, 64 (1967), 586-605.

J.C. Hirsch, 'Havelok 2933: a problem in medieval literary history', Neuphilologische mitteilungen 78 (1977), 339-49.

R. Levine, 'Who Composed Havelok for Whom?', Yearbook of English Studies, 22 (1992), 95-104.

R.M. Liuzza, 'Representation and Readership in the ME Havelok', Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 93 (1994), 504-19.

L.O. Purdon, 'The Rite of Vassalage in Havelok the Dane', Medievalia et Humanistica 20 (1993), 25-39.

D. Staines, 'Havelok the Dane: a 13th-century Handbook for Princes', Speculum, 51 (1976), 602-23.

William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman

D. Aers, Chaucer, Langland and the Creative Imagination (1980).

---, Community, Gender and Individual Identity: English Writing 1360-1430 (1988)

J.A. Alford (ed.), A Companion to Piers Plowman (1988)

A Baldwin, A Guidebook to Piers Plowman (2007)

S.A. Barney, The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman, V: C Passus 20-22; B Pasus 18-20 (2006)

M. Calabrese, An Introduction to Piers Plowman (2016)

A Cole & A. Galloway (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Piers Plowman (2014)

A Galloway, The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman, I: C Prologue-Passus 4; B Prologue-Passus 4; A Prologue-Passus 4 (2006)

R. Hanna, William Langland, Authors of the Middle Ages: English Writers of the Late Middle Ages (1993)

---, The Penn Commentary on Piers Plowman, II: C Passus 5-9; B Passus 5-7; A Passus 5-8 (2017)

K. Kerby-Fulton and Steven Justice (eds), Written Work: Langland, Labor, and Authorship (1997)

E.D. Kirk, The Dream Thought of Piers Plowman (1972)

D. Lawton, 'The Subject of Piers Plowman', Yearbook of Langland Studies 1 (1987), 1-30.

P. Martin, Piers Plowman: the Field and the Tower (1979)

A. Middleton, 'The Audience and Public of Piers Plowman', in Middle English Alliterative Poetry and its Literary Background: Seven Essays ed. D. Lawton (1982), pp. 101-23, 147-54.

---, 'Narration and the Invention of Experience: Episodic Form in Piers Plowman', in The Wisdom of Poetry: Essays in Early English Literature in honour of Morton W. Bloomfield, ed. L.D. Benson & S. Wenzel (1982), pp. 91-122.

D. Pearsall, An Annotated Critical Bibliography of Langland (1990)

W. Scase, Piers Plowman and the New Anticlericalism (1989)

J. Simpson, Piers Plowman: An Introduction (1990; 2nd edn. 2007)

M. Stokes, Justice and Mercy in Piers Plowman: A Reading of the B-Text Visio (1984)

S.J. Wood, Conscience and the Composition of Piers Plowman (2012)

Middle English Dream Vision Poetry

General background reading

J. Boffey ed. 15th century English Dream Visions: An anthology (2003)

J. Boffey, J. Cowen, eds, Chaucer and Fifteenth-Century Poetry (1991)

S.F. Kruger, Dreaming in the Middle Ages (1992)

S. F. Kruger, ‘Dialogue, debate, and dream vision’, in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Literature 1100-1500, ed. L. Scanlon (2009), pp. 71-82

K.L. Lynch, The high medieval dream vision: poetry, philosophy and literary form (1988)

A.C. Spearing, Medieval Dream Poetry (1976)

Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, translated Peter Walsh (Oxford, 2008) (see also Chaucer’s own translation, Boece, in The Riverside Chaucer, pp. 395–472)

Dante, The Divine Comedy, trans. C. H. Sisson (Oxford, 2008)

Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, The Romance of the Rose, translated Frances Horgan (Oxford, 1999) (see also the Middle English translation, part of which is perhaps by Chaucer, in The Riverside Chaucer, pp. 686–767)


H. Barr, ‘Pearl - or “the Jeweller’s Tale”’, Medium Aevum 69 (2000), 59-79

D. Brewer and J. Gibson eds., A Companion to the Gawain-poet (1997)

J. Bowers, The Politics of Pearl: Court Poetry in the Age of Richard II (2001)

P. M. Kean, The Pearl: An Interpretation (1967)

E. D. Kirk, ‘The anatomy of a mourning: reflections on the Pearl dreamer’, in M. T. Tavormina and R. F. Yeager eds, The Endless Knot: Essays on Old and Middle English in Honor of Marie Borroff, (1995), pp. 215-225

A. Putter, An Introduction to the Gawain-poet (1996)

A. C. Spearing, The Gawain-poet: A Critical Study (1970)

L. Staley, ‘Pearl and the Contingencies of Love and Piety’, in D. Aers ed., Medieval Literature and Historical Inquiry: Essays in Honour of Derek Pearsall (2000), pp. 83-114

The Book of the Duchess and The House of Fame

P. Boitani, Chaucer and the Imaginary World of Fame, 1984

W. H. Clemen, Chaucer’s Early Poetry (1963)

S. Delany, Chaucer’s House of Fame: the Poetics of Skeptical Fideism, 1972

A. J. Minnis, The Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Shorter Poems (1995)

C. Muscatine, Chaucer and the French Tradition (1957)

J. I. Wimsatt, Chaucer and the French Love Poets (1968)

B. A. Windeatt, Chaucer’s Dream Poetry, Sources and Analogues (Woodbridge, 1982), pp. 3–124

J. Winny, Chaucer’s Dream-Poems (1973)

The Kingis Quair

J. A. W. Bennett, ‘A King's Quire’, Poetica 3 (1975), 1-16

V. Caretta, ‘The Kingis Quair and The Consolation of Philosophy’, Studies in Scottish Literature 16 (1981), 14-28

L. A. Ebin, ‘Boethius, Chaucer, and the Kingis Quair,’ Philological Quarterly 53 (1974), 321-41

D. R. Marks, ‘Poems from Prison: James I of Scotland and Charles of Orleans’, Fifteenth-Century Studies 15 (1989), 245-58

J. Macqueen, ‘Poetry–James I to Henryson’, in R. D. S. Jack ed., The History of Scottish Literature (1988), I, 117-31

S. Mapstone, ‘Kingship and the Kingis Quair’, in H. Cooper and S. Mapstone eds, The Long Fifteenth Century: Essays for Douglas Gray (1997), pp. 52–69

A. Miskimin, ‘Patterns in The Kingis Quair and the Temple of Glass,’ Papers on Language and Literature 13 (1977), 339-61

D. Pearsall, ‘The English Chaucerians’, in D. Brewer ed, Chaucer and Chaucerians: Critical Studies in Middle English Literature (1966), pp. 201-39

A. Petrina, The Kingis Quair of James I of Scotland (1997)

Preston, J., ‘Fortunys Exiltree: A Study of The Kingis Quair,’ Review of English Studies n.s. 7 (1956), 339-47

W. Quinn, ‘Memory and the Matrix of Unity in The Kingis Quair’, Chaucer Review 15 (1981), 332-55

W. Scheps, ‘Chaucerian Synthesis: The Art of The Kingis Quair’, Studies in Scottish Literature 8 (1971), 143-65

The Palis of Honoure

P. Bawcutt, Gavin Douglas: A Critical Study (1976)
D. Fox, ‘The Scottish Chaucerians’ in D. Brewer ed, Chaucer and Chaucerians (1966), pp. 193-200
R. Morse, ‘Gavin Douglas: “Off Eloquence the flowand balmy strand”,’ in R. Morse and B. Windeatt eds, Chaucer Traditions: Studies in Honour of Derek Brewer (1990), pp. 107-21
J. Norton-Smith, ‘Ekphrasis as a Stylistic Element in Douglas’s Palis of Honoure,’ Medium Aevum 48 (1979), 240-53
D. Parkinson, ‘The Farce of Modesty in Gavin Douglas’s The Palis of Honoure,’ Philological Quarterly 70 (1990), 13-25

Religious Writing by and for Women


A. Savage & N. Watson (eds and tr.), Anchoritic Spirituality: 'Ancrene Wisse' and Associated Works (Classics of Western Spirituality, 1991).

B. Millett & J. Wogan Browne eds. Medieval English Prose for Women (1990)

G.R. Crampton (ed.) The Shewings of Julian of Norwich, TEAMS (1996).

N. Watson & J. Jenkins (eds), The Writings of Julian of Norwich: A Vision Showed to a Devout Woman and A Revelation of Love (2006) (long and short text, excellent introduction and annotations. In library. Worth consulting).

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, tr. E. Spearing (Penguin classics, 1998).

L. Staley (ed.) The Book of Margery Kempe, TEAMS (1996)

The Book of Margery Kempe, tr. B. Windeatt (Penguin classics, 1985).

B. Windeatt (ed.), English Mystics of the Middle Ages (1994) - an excellent anthology of mystical texts and extracts


Y. Wada (ed.), A Companion to the Ancrene Wisse (2003)

C. Gunn, Ancrene Wisse: from pastoral literature to vernacular spirituality (2008)

C. Cannon, The Grounds of English Literature (2004), ch. 5: on AW and the Katherine Group

E. Robertson, Early English Devotional Prose and the Female Audience (1990)

D. Renevey & C. Whitehead (eds), Writing Religious Women: Female Spiritual and Textual Practices in Late Medieval England (2000)

L. Herbert-McAvoy (eds.) Anchorites, Wombs and Tombs: Intersections of Gender and Enclosure in the Middle Ages (2005)

L. Herbert McAvoy, Medieval Anchoritisms (2012)

M. Glasscoe, English Medieval Mystics: Games of Faith (1993)

H. Phillips (ed.), Langland, the Mystics and the Medieval English Religious Tradition (1990)

M.G. Sargent (ed.), De Cella in Seculum: Religious and Secular Life and Devotion in Late Medieval England (1988)

M. Erler, Women, Reading and Piety in Late Medieval England, 2002

D. Baker, Julian of Norwich’s Showings: from Vision to Book (1994)

L. Herbert McAvoy, A Companion to Julian of Norwich (2008)

J.H. Arnold & K. Lewis (ed), A Companion to the Book of Margery Kempe (2004)

L. Staley, Margery Kempe’s Dissenting Fictions (2004)

L. Herbert McAvoy, Authority and the Female Body in the Writings of Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe (2004)

S. Salih, Versions of Virginity in Late Medieval England (2001)

J. Wogan-Browne, Saints' Lives and Women's Literary Culture c 1150-1300: Virginity and its Authorisations (2001)

K. Kerby-Fulton, Books Under Suspicion: Censorship and Tolerance of Revelatory Writing in Late Medieval England (2006)

S. Fanous & V. Gillespie (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Mysticism (2011)

N. Watson, 'The Middle English Mystics' in D. Wallace (ed.), The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature (1999), pp. 539-65

C.W. Bynum, Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages (1982)

B. Newman, From Virile Woman to Woman Christ (1997)

On saints' lives: O. Pickering, in A.S. G. Edwards (ed.), A Companion to Middle English Prose (2004), pp. 249-70

--- K.A. Winstead, 'Saintly Exemplarity', in P. Strohm (ed.) Middle English (2007), pp.335-51.