Chaucer and Late Medieval English Literature - EN697

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
5 30 (15) DR C Wright




Not available as wild



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:

Contact hours

The course will be taught by an interactive one-hour lecture and a two-hour seminar per week.

Method of assessment

50% coursework: seminar performance (20%), 1,500 word close reading exercise (20%), Research Diary, min 2,000 words (10%), 2,500 word Essay (50%);
50% examination - 3-hour paper

Preliminary reading

Derek Pearsall, ed., Chaucer to Spenser: An Anthology (Blackwell, 1999)
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann (Penguin, 2005)
AC Cawley & JJ Anderson, eds., Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, (Dent: London, latest edition)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

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

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

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

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