Reading the Medieval Town: Canterbury, an International City - MT864

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) DR S Sweetinburgh







This interdisciplinary course will focus on a number of inter-related themes which will be studied through differing types of evidence from written and printed texts to objects and standing buildings. Thus, as a way of aiding students to expand their intellectual horizons, some seminars will take place outside the seminar room to look at evidence in situ. Topics will include medieval topography, parish churches and lay piety, houses and shops, pilgrimage, and urban defences, using Canterbury as a contextualised case study.


This module appears in:

Method of assessment

A 5000 word contextual case study that primarily uses Canterbury sources (primary and secondary), as well as comparable materials and national surveys where appropriate.

Indicative reading

Bassett, S. (ed.), Death in Towns. Urban Responses to the Dying and the Dead, 100–1600
Beattie, C., A. Maslakovic and S. Rees Jones (eds), The Medieval Household in Christian Europe, c.850-c.1550
Collinson, P., N. Ramsey and M. Sparks (eds), Canterbury Cathedral
Creighton, O. and R. Higham, Medieval Town Walls. An Archaeology and Social History of Urban Defence
Steane, J., The Archaeology of Power: England and Northern Europe AD 800–1600
Swanson, H., Medieval British Towns
Trio, P. and M. de Smet (eds), The Use and Abuse of Sacred Places in Late Medieval Towns
Urry, W., Canterbury under the Angevin Kings
*Sweetinburgh, S., ed., Early Medieval Kent, 800–1220 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2016).
*Sweetinburgh, S., ed., Later Medieval Kent, 1220–1540 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010).
*Clark, P., English provincial society from the Reformation to the Revolution: religion, politics and society in Kent, 1500–1640 (Hassocks, 1977).

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

• Students will improve their skills of 'close reading' and 'close looking', enabling them to analyse better primary sources: texts, objects, buildings
• Students will develop a working knowledge of medieval urban history and medieval urban archaeology and the attendant research resources
• Students will improve their ability to engage critically with the secondary literature on medieval urban society through the use of Canterbury as a detailed case study
and the deployment of comparative approaches
• Students will develop their ability to assess and apply critical and theoretical strategies appropriate for the study of material culture in the later Middle Ages

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