Module Identifier ENM1220  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator To Be Arranged  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Professor Diane Watt  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   Seminar. 2 hours per week  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1 x 5,000 word essay 


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

   Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own", Janet Todd, "Feminist Literary History" (Chapter 1); Alexandra Barratt, "Women's
   Writing in the Middle English" (Introduction).

2. A Cell of One's Own

   Julian of Norwich: "A Revelation of Love; The Book of Margery Kempe"; "A Revelation of Purgatory".

3. Women Writing Fiction
   Marie de France's "Lais" and "Fables".

4. The First Professional Woman Writer

   Christine de Pisan: "The Epistle of Othea"; "The Body of Policy"; "The Book of the City of Ladies"; "The Treasure of the City
   of Ladies"; "Ditie de Jehanne d'Arc".

5. Traslating Authority and the Problems of 'Non-Literary' and Anonymous Texts

   Dame Eleanor Hull, "The Seven Psalms and Meditations"; Lady Margaret Beaufort, "The Imitation of Christ" and "The Mirror
   of Gold to the Sinful Soul"; religious lyrics by women, the Paston letters, "The Assembly of Ladies", "The Flower and the Leaf",
   "The Owl and the Nightingale", anonymous secular poetry.

Primary Reading

Alexandra Barratt (ed), "Women's Writing in Middle English" (London, 1982)


This module is at CQFW Level 7