Middle English Literature (Online)
Middle English literature is not all prayer and piety and men in armour. Discover a rich cultural heritage in Middle English poems, plays and prose (modern translations); stories of high- and low-born, horribly good and gleefully bad, men and women; and the language and culture from which they sprang.
Listen to Dr Sandie Byrne talking about the course
From the End of the World to Creation, via Heaven, earthly paradises, greed, corruption, purity, saintliness, intrigue, betrayal, sex, jealousy, castles, maidens, knights, monsters, kings, plague, rogues, con-men, drunks, bawds, lovers, abduction, demons, angels, hunting, questing, comic shepherds, ranting Herods, and Hell. Middle English Literature is not all prayer and piety. Discover a rich cultural heritage in Middle English texts in modern translations and explore poetry, prose and plays of the medieval period, and the language and culture out of which they grew. We shall look at texts from The Owl and the Nightingale (c.1210) to The Morte d'Arthur (1470, published 1485), including poems of religious and secular love, and extracts from, among others, The Canterbury Tales, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Mystery Plays, and Piers Plowman. No knowledge of Middle English is necessary.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
1. When was Middle English?
Medieval culture; English society in the Middle Ages; key events
2. What was Middle English?
Language, dialects, orthography
3. Short poems, religious and secular
The Harley Lyrics
4. Longer religious and devotional works
Saint's Lives, Rules, Treatises
Extracts from Mystery, Morality, and Miracle Plays; Everyman
The Canterbury Tales (selection)
7. The Gawain poet
Gawain and the Green Knight (extracts)
Piers Plowman (extracts)
9. Didactic works, chronicles, and other non-fiction works
10. Manuscripts and books
Production; preservation; editing; mss studies
To participate in this course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following books:
- Turville-Petre, Reading Middle English Literature: An Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell (2006)
- Larry Scanlon, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, (2009)
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU Fee: £280.00
Non-EU Fee: £300.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
1. Introduce students to the history and culture of the Middle Ages.
2. Introduce students to the range and variety of the literature of the Middle Ages (in modern English).
3. Introduce students to Middle English dialects.
4. Introduce students to Middle English orthography.
5. Introduce students to medieval manuscript and book production.
1. Have knowledge and understanding of English life during the eleventh to fifteenth centuries.
2. Have knowledge and understanding of some of the key genres, authors, texts, styles and themes of Middle English literature.
3. Recognise key features of some Middle English dialects.
4. Recognise features of some varieties of Middle English orthography.
There will be links to online texts and hypertexts (for example, the electronic Canterbury Tales Project), to images of illuminated mss, to websites on Middle English and medieval culture (the European context as well as British), to examples of orthography, to audio files, and to commentaries.
One unit will include 'drag and drop' word choices, and click to reveal glosses will be provided in some extracts. Each unit will include a short talk available as a podcast, and a transcript.
By the end of this course students will be expected to understand:
- Definitions and problems associated with defining the middle ages.
- The chronological order of key events during the middle ages.
- The variety of kinds of writing produced during the middle ages.
- Issues in establishing, preserving, and editing a Middle English literature corpus.
- Some key themes and concepts explored in writing of the middle ages.
- Some key elements of Middle English dialects.
- Differences between some kinds of scripts employed in the middle ages.
By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
- The ability to discuss and analyse a range of Middle English texts in modern English adaptations.
- The ability to identify key themes and styles in Middle English Literature.
- The ability to understand some simple phrases in Middle English.
- The ability to read some simple phrases in medieval book hand.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 500 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 1500 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support