Chaucer and Late Medieval English Literature - EN697

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2020 to 2021.


This module will introduce students to a range of writing from the late-medieval period. It focuses on a number of central genres in English literature that emerged between the late-fourteenth and early-sixteenth-centuries (romance, tragedy and fabliaux, miracle plays and devotional prose), and will explore some key topics and themes in medieval literature. In previous years, we have explored, for example: authority and the idea of the 'author', politics and social change, gender, sexuality, piety, personal identity, chivalry, free will, legend, historicism, reading technologies and practices, iconography, and medievalism. The themes and theories covered by the course will vary from year to year in response to the lecture programme, and to the emphases made by individual teachers.

Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales will offer an accessible introduction to many of these core genres and themes, and initiate students in issues that are pertinent to less familiar writers and texts from the period, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Malory's Le Morte Darthur, and The Book of Margery Kempe. During the course of the module you will also learn about the historical and cultural contexts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, how such contexts influenced the literature of the period, and how modern medievalisms (the versions of ‘the medieval’ presented in, for instance, film, TV , art and historical novels) have shaped twenty-first-century ideas about medieval life and literature.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 30
Private study hours: 270
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

50% coursework, 50% examination.

Translation c.20 lines (0% : Formative)
Close reading exercise (1,500 words) (10%)
Research Diary (2,000 words) (5%)
Research Essay (2,500 words) (25%)
Seminar performance (10%)
Examination (3 hours) (50%)

Indicative reading

Pearsall, D., ed. (1999) Chaucer to Spenser: An Anthology Oxford: Blackwell.
Chaucer, G. (2005) The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann London: Penguin.
Cawley, A.C. & Anderson, J.J., eds. (1996) Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, London: Dent.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. demonstrate a critical understanding of the writings of a range of authors from the later medieval and Tudor period;
2. demonstrate an understanding of the different kinds of narrative and the ways in which they are written;
3. identify recurrent topics within and between authors and across periods
4. establish a sense of the historical and cultural contexts for medieval and Tudor literature.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. identify and apply appropriate methods and theories;
2. structure, develop and sustain complex arguments; and select, assimilate and apply primary and secondary sources;
3. demonstrate independent and collaborative research skills
4. demonstrate writing skills and use a range of techniques to undertake critical analysis of texts;
5. demonstrate oral communication skills to present an argument orally, how to defend that argument, and how to use responses to refine ideas.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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