Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Medieval and Renaissance Writing
Academic Year
Semester 1
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  33%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   Two questions  67%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit or resit failed elements and/or make good any missing elements 
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   Resit exam  Resit examination  100%

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 the dominant literary genres of the period, and to raise and question conflicting versions of cultural and literary 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, religious 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 (e.g. lectures 5 and 15) although all lectures will deal in broader themes as well as in detailed reference to the particularities of the named text.


SECTION A: Society, Identity and Travel in Medieval Literature
1 Introduction to Medieval Literature using 'The General Prologue' of Georffrey Chaucer's The Cantebury Tales.
2 Chaucer, 'The Pardoner's Tale'.
3 Chaucer, 'The Franklin'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 Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
20 Relections on Meieval & Renaissance Literatures

1 Introduction to Medieval Literature and Geoffrey Chaucer, The General Prologue to The Canterbury Takes


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 historical 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; make better connections with the 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 set 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
(1999.) A companion to the Gawain-poetedited by Derek Brewer and Jonathan Gibson. D.S. Brewer (2005.) Chaucer :an Oxford guide /edited by Steve Ellis. Oxford University Press Primo search (2008.) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Armitage (modernisation) Faber & Faber Primo search Brown, Peter (1994.) Chaucer at work :the making of the Canterbury Tales /Peter Brown. Longman Primo search Chaucer, Geoffrey (2008.) The riverside Chaucer /Geoffrey Chaucer ; general editor, Larry D. Benson. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press Primo search Marvell, Andrew (2003.) The Poems of Andrew Marvell /edited by Nigel Smith. Longman Primo search
Should Be Purchased
(1998 (various p) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight /edited, with an introduction, prose translation and notes, by W.R.J. Barron. Rev. ed. Manchester University Press Primo search Chaucer (2005) Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue Kolve, Olson Norton Primo search Donne, John (2000.) John Donne :the major works /edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey. Oxford University Press Primo search Kempe, Margery (1985 (2004 pri) The book of Margery Kempe /translated by B.A. Windeatt. Repr with rev. bibl. Penguin Primo search Mandeville, John (2005.) The travels of Sir John Mandeville /translated with an introduction by C.W.R.D. Moseley. Penguin Primo search Martin (2010) Chritopher Marlowe, Edward II Broadview Primo search Shakespeare, William (2008, c1984.) Julius Caesar /William Shakespeare ; edited by Arthur Humphreys. Oxford University Press Primo search Shakespeare, William (2008.) The complete sonnets and poems /William Shakespeare ; edited by Colin Burrow. Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5