Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Various permutations according to degree scheme of: EN20620, EN20720, EN20820 & EN20120
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 hour
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 1 hour weekly seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 2000 WORD ESSAY  All questions ask students to answer on one specific text. Students are encouraged to locate their close study of one specific text within appropriate cultural, hisotiral and literary contexts.  33%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Two questions including one comparative question.  67%
Supplementary Assessment Submit essay on a fresh topic or resit supplementary exam depending on which element was failed. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

demonstrate knowledge of a representative range of literary texts from the period 1350-1650

locate these texts in appropriate cultural and historical contexts

articulate a detailed critical analysis of individual texts from the period that shows an understanding of their distinctive qualities

relate texts from the period either to each other or to a common theme

Brief description

The module seeks to introduce students to a representative range of texts from the period 1350-1650. The texts have been selected in order to illustrate the rich variety within and between the dominant literary genres of the period, and to raise and question conflicting versions of cultural history. The module is structured around a recurrent set of themes: travel, identity and social concerns, religious belief and experience, love and sexuality, power, politics and authority. In Section A all the texts use the device of a journey, with greater or lesser reference to pilgrimage. Through this they each in differing ways explore the concept of travel and its relation to society, religous experience and identity. In Section B, the texts also explore issues of society and identity which enables a comparison with those issues in Section A. The poetry texts (Shakespeare's sonnets to Andrew Marvell) deal in particular with issues of love and sexuality while the drama texts (Edwards II and Caesar) deal particularly with power and the politics of authority. For each section, space has been made in the lecture programme to address some of these concepts and themes in general (eg lectures 6 and 15) although all lectures will deal in broader themes as well as in detailed reference to the particularities of the named text.


1. Introduction to Medieval Literature using 'The General Prologue' of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
2 Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
3 Chaucer, 'The Frankin's Tale
4 Anon, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
5 Anon, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
6 Concepts of travel in the middle ages
7 Pilgrimage narratives: Margery Kempe
8 Pilgrimage narratives: Mandeville's Travels

SECTION B: Society, Identity and the Politics of Authority in Renaissance Literature
9&10 Shakespeare's Sonnets
11&12. Selected poetry of John Donne
13-14. Selected poetry of Andrew Marvell
15 Introduction to Elizabethan political theatre
16-17. Christopher Marlowe, Edward II
18-19. William Shakespear, Julius Caesar
20. Reflections on Medieval & Renaissance Literatures

1) Introduction to Medieval Literature and Geoffrey Chaucer, The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales
2) Geoffrey Chaucer, 'The Franklin's Tale' and 'The Pardoner's Tale' from The Canterbury Tales
3) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
4) Pilgrimage narratives: The Book of Margery Kempe and Mandeville's Travels
5) Introduction to Renaissance literature and Shakespeare's Sonnets
6) Selections from the poetry of John Donne
7) Selections from the poetry of Andrew Marvell
8) Christopher Marlowe, Edward II
9) William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
10) William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar and reflections on the module


This is a revised version of the current Year 2 core period module on Medieval and Renaissance Writing. It is one of a suite of four modules designed to offer students the chance to study in detail a set of representative texts from each of the major hisotrical periods of English literature. The revisions retain some of the current texts and make changes to others in both the medieval and the renaissance sections of the module. In general, the revisions are intended to i) freshen the module, to bring it more closely in line with staff research interests; ii) make better connections with and clearer progression from the new suite of part 1 modules; iii) make the thematic integrity within the module greater so that it is more possible to et enabling comparative questions for the examination.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication (Written) in essays and examination answers students are encouraged to express their ideas articulately and fluently (Oral) seminars are based on group discussion and brief student presentations
Improving own Learning and Performance Students are encouraged to take more personal initiative in the planning and conduct of their preparation for assignments than at Level 1, and to make use of a broader range of resources; formal feedback on essays and informal feedback on seminar participation helps students measure their improvement
Information Technology Substantial use is made of electronic text-databases (EEBO, LION), of electronic journals, and of Blackboard, and students are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these
Personal Development and Career planning The module encourages in-depth analytical skills which are transferable and it also covers key areas of literature in which students intending to teach English would need to demonstrate competence and which might be related to future academic research.
Problem solving In essays and examination answers: by formulating an putting into practice a critical approach appropriate to text and topic set
Research skills In preparation for seminars, essays, and exams: by investigation of literary texts, associated critical and scholarly writing, and the relationship of literary texts to historical an cultural contexts
Subject Specific Skills Critical interpretation of literary texts and cultures.
Team work Informal group work in seminars

Reading List

General Text
Medieval and Tudor Drama (texts will be provided in seminars) Primo search
Should Be Purchased
Barron, W R J (ed) (1998 (various p) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight /edited, with an introduction, prose translation and notes, by W.R.J. Barron. Manchester University Press Primo search Chaucer, Geoffrey (1996.) The wife of Bath /Geoffrey Chaucer : complete, authoritative text with biographical and historical contexts, critical history, and essays from five contemporary critical perspectives / edited by Peter G. Beidler. Macmillan Primo search Donne, John (2000) The Major Works, ed Carey, John Oxford University Press Primo search Kempe, Margery. (1985.) The book of Margery Kempe /translated by B.A. Windeatt. Penguin Primo search Marlowe, Christopher (March 2003) Edward II, ed. Wiggins, Martin and Lindsay, Robert A & C Black Primo search Shakespeare, William (1991.) Measure for measure /William Shakespeare; edited by Brian Gibbons. Cambridge University Press Primo search Sidney, Philip (Oct. 2002) Sir Philip Sidney:The Major Works Oxford University Press, Incorporated Primo search
Essential Reading
Texts provided in Seminars Country House Poetry Online resources to be confirmed Primo search
Supplementary Text
(2003) A companion to English renaissance literature and culture/edited by Michael Hattaway. Blackwell Primo search (1994.) Feminist readings in Middle English literature :the Wife of Bath and all her sect /edited by Ruth Evans and Lesley Johnson. Routledge Primo search (2006) The Cambridge companion to John Donne /edited by Achsah Guibbory CUP Primo search (2000.) The spirit of medieval English popular romance /edited by Ad Putter and Jane Gilbert. Longman Primo search Barron, W. R. J. (1987.) English medieval romance /W.R.J. Barron. Longman Primo search Dillon, Janette (1998.) Language and stage in Medieval and Renaissance England /Janette Dillon. Cambridge University Press Primo search Fox, Alistair. (1997.) The English Renaissance :identity and representation in Elizabethan England /Alistair Fox. Blackwell Publishers Primo search Low, Anthony (1993, 1995 prin) The reinvention of love :poetry, politics, and culture from Sidney to Milton /Anthony Low. Cambridge University Press Primo search Lunney, Ruth. (2002.) Marlowe and the popular tradition :innovation in the English drama before 1595 /Ruth Lunney. Distributed in the USA by Palgrave Primo search McBride, Kari Boyd. (2001.) Country house discourse in early modern England :a cultural study of landscape and legitimacy /Kari Boyd McBride. Ashgate Primo search Rigby, S. H. (1996.) Chaucer in context :society, allegory, and gender /S.H. Rigby. Distributed exclusively in the USA by St. Martin's Press Primo search Shugar, Debora K (2001) Political Theologies in Shakespeare's England Basingstoke:Palgrave Primo search Simkin, Stevie. (2000.) A preface to Marlowe /Stevie Simkin. Longman Primo search Simpson, James (2002. ;) The Oxford English literary history. Reform and cultural revolution /James Simpson. Oxford University Press. Primo search Watt, Diane (2007.) Medieval women's writing :works by and for women in England, 1100-1500 /Diane Watt. Polity Primo search

Minnis, A. J. (2009.) Translations of authority in medieval English literature :valuing the vernacular /Alastair Minnis. Cambridge University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5