Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 5 x 2-hour seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 5,000 word essay  Essay: 
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 successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Brief description

Recent scholarship has recovered a great deal of previously neglected medieval women's writing. Spiritual texts (often of an autobiographical nature) make up perhaps three quarters of this material, but some early secular works also exist. 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. The whole spectrum of writing will be considered, from personal meditations and prayers to biographies and romances. Topics covered will include: representations of women; the anti-feminist tradition and defences of women; women's exclusion from history and from the literary canon; definitions of 'women's writing'; women's style; representations and self-representations of women; the anti-feminist tradition and defences of women; women and religion; feminine piety; and women in medieval society.



_1. Women's Literary History: the Medieval Phase

  • Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women (Introduction to the section on the Middle Ages and Renaissance)
  • Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"
  • Janet Todd, "Feminist Literary History" (Chapter 1)
  • Alexandra Barratt, "Women's Writing in Middle English" (Introduction).
_2. A Cell of One's Own

  • "The Life of Christina of Markyate"
  • The St Albans Psalter
_3. Women Writing Fiction

  • Marie de France's "Lais", "Fables" and "St Alban's Psalter"
_4. Who's Afraid of Margery Kempe?

  • Julian of Norwich: "A Revelation of Love"
  • "The Book of Margery Kempe"
  • "A Revelation of Purgatory"
_5. Do Letters Have Authors?

  • The Paston letters

Reading List

Should Be Purchased
Alexandra Barratt (ed.) (1992) Women's Writing in Middle English Selections of most of these texts can be found in London: Longman Annotated Texts Primo search Burgess, Glyn S and Keith Busby, trans (1986) The Lais of Marie de Frnace Penguin Primo search Speigel, Harriet (1987) Marie de Frnace: Fables University of Toronto Press Primo search

Kempe, Margery. (1985.) The book of Margery Kempe /translated by B.A. Windeatt. Primo search Talbot, C. H. (May 1998) The Life of Christina of Markyate:A twelfth century recluse Primo search Watt, Diane (2004.) The Paston women :selected letters /translated from the Middle English with intorduction notes and interpretive essay [by] Diane Watt. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 7