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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL2025 Medieval Literature

20 creditsClass Size: 50

Module manager: Dr Alaric Hall
Email: a.t.p.hall@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at 'A' Level in English Language or Literature or in a modern language (or the overseas equivalent), or an achieved mark of 56 or above in a Level 1 module in English / IMS, as a tender of ability to cope with Middle English.

Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students.

This module is mutually exclusive with

ENGL2013The Medieval Renascence: Chaucer, Langland and the 'Gawain'

Module replaces

ENGL2013

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module introduces students to the language and literature of medieval England by focusing on three key areas: late medieval drama, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Old English poetry. We travel backwards in time, beginning with texts whose expression and preoccupations are more like our own, working our way towards more unfamiliar cultures and language. Together these three areas offer startling insights into the relationship between writing, performance, and orality; the ways people adapt their pasts to their present; and the power of writing to question and shape the world we live in.

Objectives

- Confidence in reading early varieties of English.
- Ability to analyse texts from radically different cultures critically and without prejudice.
- A strong sense of the literary and cultural diversity of the Anglophone Middle Ages.
- An awareness of the place of medieval English literature in an international context.

Learning outcomes
Skills outcomes and Graduate Attributes

In terms of Academic Excellence this module develops critical thinking, flexibility of thought and analytical skills. It supports and develops the ability to work autonomously, initiative, planning and organisational skills. Students will learn to analyse information, synthesise views and make connections; students will be critically aware of, and be informed by, current knowledge; and will develop research skills. In short:

- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.

Skills outcomes
Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
Critical reasoning.
Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
IT skills.
Time management and organisational skills.
Independent learning.


Syllabus

This module introduces students to the language and literature of medieval England by focusing on three key areas, in reverse chronological order: late medieval drama, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Old English poetry.

We begin by plunging into fifteenth-century drama, exploring the carnivalesque world of popular literature on the eve of the Reformation. This material both provides a crucial beginners’ guide to medieval Christianity, which is useful later in the module, and emphasises how critical, irreverent, and thoughtful attitudes to religion could be. We find ourselves laughing at Christ’s Crucifixion—and uncomfortably asking ourselves why. ‘Why are we saved and not them?’ demands Noah’s wife as her friends are seized by the flood. The plays investigate power and social norms, playing out uncomfortable questions about the social and moral order.

Then we go back a century, to when Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales burst on to the literary scene. At first sight a genial social satire, Chaucer’s cavalcade of pilgrims and the stories they tell lead us into a clamour of sharply competing voices, of women and men, rich and poor, contesting authority, memory, history, and meaning.

For the last third of the module, we reach back to the earliest literature in English, composed as English-speakers first encountered literacy and Christianity and seized this new opportunity to express themselves. Old English riddles, for example, joyously explore how language makes and remakes the world: how can a dismembered animal speak, or a worm destroy human knowledge? What is the squishy thing that rises when a woman rubs it? Other poetry, meanwhile, contemplates what it means to write amidst the ruins of the Roman Empire, or convert to a religion that damns your ancestors.

We read Old English texts primarily in translation, but also investigate selected passages in the original, and you will have the opportunity if you wish to feed language study into your literary analyses. You will be able to reflect on fundamental medieval literary topics, including the status of poetry and the poet, humour, subversiveness, gender, orality and literacy, and the relationship between art and life.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Lecture181.0018.00
Seminar101.0010.00
Private study hours172.00
Total Contact hours28.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contribution to seminars.
Submission of assessed work.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500 word essay33.30
Essay2,500 word essay66.70
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Students must submit/sit and pass both elements. Students who fail either element (even as a result of penalties) will have to resit the failed element in order to pass the module.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:36:18

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