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On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
This module explores lives and life writing in medieval and renaissance England (and Wales) by detailed consideration of literary and material evidence from the period, c. 1400-1650. It focuses on the lives of both women and men. Recent scholarship has recovered a great deal of previously neglected medieval women's and men¿s writing. For women, spiritual texts (often of an autobiographical nature) make up perhaps three quarters of this material, but some early secular works also exist. For men, there is a range of life writing.
How have academics written about medieval and renaissance lives during the last century? eg HS Bennett. E. Power, S, Greenblatt, J. Bennett
What methods and theories are useful? What problems do researchers face?
Seminars 2, 3 and 4: Types of Source
1) History and Hagiography: early and later English lives eg Aethelthryth and Christina Markyate
2) Letters: the Paston letters
3) Wills: eg of John Ansell (d 1518) and Katherine Styles (d c.1530)
Seminars 5 and 6: Autobiography and Biography
Autobiography and the Book of Margery Kempe
Reconstructing biographies from fragments: eg William Buckley, ¿ Renaissance Man¿ (d.1552) and Henry Unton¿s portrait
Seminars 7 and 8: Controversial Lives: Dissent and Martyrdom
Heresy trials and religious testimony eg Anne Askew
Reformation lives eg Duchess of Suffolk
Seminar 9: The After-lives of Manuscripts
eg Hengwrt Chaucer/ Brogyntyn 2.1
Seminar 10: Afterlives
Later recensions of lives and texts, such as the lives of Aethelthryth, Christina of Markyate, Book of Margery Kempe, the Paston letters, or the Examinations of Anne Askew
The module will encourage students to think about how to interpret the various surviving evidences for lives. Students will develop their theoretical position(s) on the concept of lives by introducing and enabling critical consideration of theoretical approaches to lives, self fashioning and life writing drawn from literary and cultural studies. The module will examine the often problematic circumstances of the production and dissemination of a text. We will ask questions such as: What is a life? How were medieval and renaissance lives represented through text and object? How do these representations impinge on medieval and renaissance perceptions of life and identity? What is biography? How are past lives represented now? This module will address these questions by examining, in detail a selection of the wide variety of evidence for renaissance lives, such as: diaries, letters, monuments, life stories, testaments, saints' lives, portraits, personal meditations, prayers, biographies and romances.
Reading ListShould Be Purchased
Watt, Diane (ed and trans) (2004) The Paston Women: Selected Letters Woodbridge, Suffolk, Boydell and Brewer Primo search Essential Reading
'William Buckley', in Salter, six Renaissance Men and Women The biographical Portrait of Henry Unton Primo search Bede (1990.) Ecclesiastical history of the English people with Bede's letter to Egbert and Cuthbert's letter on the death of Bede /Bede. Rev. ed. Penguin Primo search Beilin Elaine (ed) (1996) The Examinations of Anne Askew Oxfofrd Univesity Press Primo search Davis, Norman (ed) (1999) The Paston Letters: A Selection in Modern Spelling Oxford, World Classics Primo search Donovan, Leslie A. (2006) Women's Saints Lives in Old English Prose Woodbridge, Suffolk, Boydell and Brewer Primo search Fanous, Samuel and Leyser, Henriette (eds) (2008) The Life of Christina of Markyate Trans. C H Talbot Oxford, World Classics Primo search Mann, Francis Oscar (ed) (1912) The Works of Thomas Deloney London Primo search See notes: Ansell, John (d1518) and Styles, Katherine 9d.c.1530), Las Will and Testament Documents (handbook) Primo search Stubbs, Estelle (ed) The Nengwrt Chaucer National Library of Wales, available in digital facsimile, CD Rom. Primo search Windeatt, Barry (trans.) (2002) The Book of Margery Kempe Harmondsworth, Penguin Primo search
This module is at CQFW Level 7