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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL1180 Exploring Medieval Literature

20 creditsClass Size: 300

English

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

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2008/09

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at A level in English Language or Literature or equivalent.

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

Why study medieval literature? Modern audiences delight in the retelling and remaking of medieval stories, as you can see from the popularity of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien - a former teacher of Middle English here at Leeds. Tolkien isn't an isolated case: much modern popular culture, including romance, has medieval roots. This module introduces you to the colourful worlds of British and European medieval literature, spanning seven centuries or more from the year 800 A.D. We will study a representative range of medieval works - Anglo-Saxon epic, Viking saga, riddles, Arthurian romance, Chaucerian comedy, high medieval love lyrics, and late medieval drama from Yorkshire. We will consider how medieval literatures/cultures differ from and resemble our own - in their presentation of the heroic, the divine, the comic, the courtly, the local/national/international, the oral and written, the masculine and feminine, the natural and supernatural, and much else. We have structured the module so as to provide you with the opportunity for close study of selected texts, while helping you to explore the linguistic and cultural backgrounds of these works. We study the texts in broadly chronological order, though we will also be exploring the different treatment of important themes across the centuries.

Objectives

On completion of this module, students will be able to identify the major forms of Old and Middle English literature, and will have the basis on which to develop a reading knowledge of Old and Middle English. They will also have acquired a sense of the relationship of medieval English literature to its European neighbours, and of the relevance of the study of medieval literature to that of the later literature.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

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 you to some of the broad range of the literary production of European culture, spanning seven centuries or more, that constitutes and influences Old and Middle English literature. One scholar has characterised medieval literature as the product of 'a half-alien culture': by providing you with some of the medieval linguistic and cultural background essential to an understanding of these challenging texts, and by arguing for their cultural and intellectual relevance to our own times, we will be considering how the 'difference' of medieval literature works productively: an appreciation of the workings of medieval literature can lead us to fresh perspectives on our own late-twentieth-century modes of thought and cultural expression. We have structured the module so as to provide you with the opportunity for close study of selected texts, in the context of an awareness of the cultural background to their production. In this way, you will be able to explore both some of the wide literary range the term 'medieval' covers, and what connects the texts you study in terms of cultural practice, genre and deployment of language. The order in which we study the texts is broadly chronological (though we will also be looking at themes across eras, such as literary treatments of the Crucifixion), and in the course of the module we look at Old English poetry (including both riddles and heroic poetry), Icelandic Saga, lai, romance, Chaucer's Miller's Tale, drama, and later Middle English lyrics.

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
Lecture221.0022.00
Seminar101.0010.00
Private study hours168.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Seminar preparation, reading, essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Seminar contribution.

2 assessed written assignments.

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 words25.00
Essay1,500 words25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated


Exams
Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 06/08/2008

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