Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 20 Hours. 10 x 2 hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 2 essays (2,500 words each)  Essay:  100%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit any failed elements and/or make good any missing elements. Where this involves re-submission of work, a new topic must be selected. 

Learning Outcomes

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

1. demonstrate an understanding of the culture and history of women at the end of the Middle Ages in England;

2. demonstrate an understanding of a range of late medieval texts and/or for women;

3. locate these texts within the literary, religious, socio-historical and/or cultural contexts in which they were produced and read;

4. analyse these texts in relation to current critical and theoretical debates.

Brief description

The aim of this module is not only to introduce a selection of early women's literature, but also to examine the often problematic circumstances of its production. A whole spectrum of writing will be considered, from autobiographical texts to divine revelations.

This module on women, writing and religion in the Middle Ages will begin by examining both the antifeminist tradition and the historical reality of woman's position within medieval society. It will then consider a wide range of Middle English texts, including guides for holy women, saints' lives, visionary writings, personal letters and devotional pieces by and for women. Topics covered will include women and martyrdom, women's masochism, virginity and sexuality, holy anorexia, and the feminization of God. Most of these works are easily accessible in the set texts. The module will be taught in two hour weekly seminars, which will be introduced by seminar papers.



1 Women in the Middle Ages: representations of Eve and the Virgin Mary in literature and visual art; religious and scientific notions of woman; the social and historical background.

2 Exemplary Lives 1: Seinte Margarete

3 Examplary Lives 2: The Life of Christina of Markyate

4 Enclosed Women 1: Ancrene Wisse parts 7 and 8; Hali Mei'rad

5 Enclosed Women 2: Julian of Norwich, The Divine Revelation

6 Women in Society: The Book of Margery Kempe; the Paston letters

7-8 Women's Visions 1 and 2: The Life of Christina of Markyate; Julian of Norwich, The Divine Revelation; The Book of Margery Kempe, 'A Revelation Showed to a Holy Woman'

9-10 Women's Visions 3 and 4: Continental Woman Visionaries

_Set Texts

Alexandra Barratt (ed): Women's Writing in Middle English (London, 1992)
Marion Glancoe (ed.), Julian of Norwich: A Revelation of Love (Exeter, 1986)
C H Talbot (edited and translated), The Life of Christina of Markyate (Toronto, 1998)
B. A. Windeatt (translated), The Book of Margery Kempe (Harmondsworth, 1985)


This module is at CQFW Level 6