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Formative Essay Questions


In addition to the summative assignment that you may be REQUIRED to submit for this module, you have the OPTION to write formative assignments from the list of questions given below. Please note that formative assignments are for training purposes only and do not count as part of your final degree classification.

We strongly recommend that you submit a formative assignment as it will enable you to hone the skills developed in this module and to prepare for your summative assessment(s).

You may, If you wish, discuss the same text/thinker in a summative assignment as you have discussed in a piece of formative assignment, but you must not reproduce in part or whole any of your formative assignment in your summative assignment.

Two coursework (formative) essays (c. 1,500 - 2,000 words in length) are required for this module. Each of them should be handed in by the week 7 class of term 1 and term 2.

Term 1

  1. In speaking of medieval werewolf stories, Bynum suggests that ‘the self is not just a performance but a story.’ In light of this statement, consider the way in which identity is represented and how we might describe that representation in ONE OR MORE of Marie de France’s Lais.
  2. ‘How, you may ask, do [these stories] help us to think about identity? These stories seem to be about exactly the opposite – not identity but loss’ (BYNUM). Consider Bynum’s question in connection with ANY TWO texts on the module.
  3. Compare and contrast the depiction of human-animal transformation in 'Bisclavret' and 'Yonec'.
  4. To what extent is identity reliant upon the body in medieval French literature? Use ONE OR MORE texts on the module in your answer.
  5. Discuss the relationship between gender and transformation in ONE OR MORE texts on the module.
  6. To what extent does Gaunt’s claim that Old French texts ‘do not in practice treat gender as a rigid, immutable, or “natural” phenomenon’ fit with your own reading of medieval literature? Discuss in connection with AT LEAST TWO texts on the module.

Term 2 

  1. To what extent and in what ways are notions of identity in medieval texts embedded in contemporary social structures? Include close reference to ONE OR MORE texts on the module in your answer.
  2. Do transvestism and disguise in medieval texts fundamentally challenge what is perceived to be the natural social and sexual order? Consider this question in connection with ONE OR MORE texts on the module.
  3. What is the purpose of disguise in 'La Vie de sainte Euphrosine'?
  4. ‘[…] the distinct ideologies of medieval genres are predicated at least in part upon distinct constructions of gender.’ (GAUNT) In light of this statement, analyse the relationship between gender and genre in AT LEAST TWO texts from DIFFERENT GENRES on the module.
  5. 'Gender crossings represented in narratives about cross-dressing protagonists [...] raise the issue of the arbitrariness of gender categories by blatantly transgressing them' (BURNS and McCRACKEN). Discuss this statement in relation to ONE OR MORE texts on the module.