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Medieval Realms


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenors: Mike Bintley and Isabel Davis
  • Assessment: a 1000-word commentary (10%) and two 2500-word essays (45% each)

Module description

This module offers the chance to explore the rich sophistication and diversity of Medieval Literature, and the ways in which this period and its best writing still matters to us today. Working across genres and periods, the module gives you a taste of all the extraordinary things it was possible to think, imagine and create in a culture very different from our own. It will look, for example, at drama, poetry and prose, romance, mysticism and early life writing. You will encounter beautiful and intellectually engaging materials, learn more about English as a language, and consider writing in its historical and cultural context.

Indicative module syllabus

  • Introduction: When and where? The European Middle Ages (Marie de France Lais)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Chaucer’s House of Fame
  • Mysticism - Julian of Norwich and the Cloud of Unknowing
  • Life writing: Margery Kempe and Thomas Hoccleve
  • Drama - Mankind
  • Old English and Old Norse in their contexts
  • The Wanderer and The Ruin
  • The Wife’s Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer
  • Beowulf
  • Skaldic and Eddic poetry
  • Volsunga saga

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of key texts and topics
  • recognise the intellectual, social, religious, political and cultural contexts in which these ideas developed
  • engage with secondary criticism and other forms of evidence including historical texts and material culture
  • understand current approaches to medieval literary studies.