Sex, Sin & Death
Sex, Sin, and Death: Medieval Women’s Writing 2023-24
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
What were medieval women writing and reading? Which themes emerge as important in their work? This module examines women’s textual culture in which we hear their voices in a period when men encouraged women to be ‘chaste, silent and obedient.’ The module explores a range of texts written, translated, read, commissioned, and performed by women, examining the ways in which these respond to men's (mis)understanding of women. The texts studied in seminar offer opportunity to hear, amongst others, the intimate thoughts and words of Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, the Paston wives, Hrotsvita and Marie de France. All of the authors share an interest in sex, sin and death, as recorded in their travel narratives, letters, devotions, poetry, and drama – all of which contributed to the rich textual culture of the Middle Ages.
What texts were medieval women writing and reading? This module examines women’s textual culture in an historical period in which many male-authored works encouraged women to be ‘chaste, silent and obedient,’ in spite of an assumption that women were naturally inclined towards lust and gossip. The module explores a range of literature written by women, and examines the ways in which female-produced works (those written, translated, read, commissioned, performed and discussed in medieval England) were in dialogue with the constructions of medieval womanhood current during this period. The texts studied in seminar offer opportunity to hear, amongst others, the intimate thoughts and words of Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, the Paston wives and Marie de France, on topics as broad as love, marriage, sex, death and religion, as recorded in travel narratives, letters, devotions, lyrics and other literature – all of which contributed to the rich textual culture of the Middle Ages.
-threshold -Typically, work graded D- to D+ (or 40 to 49) will show many of the following qualities: •Unsure and lacking in confidence when discussing ideas •Referring to the subject in question in a superficial manner •Making an effort to provide fairly balanced answers •Some points in the argument irrelevant to the topic •Little evidence of background reading •Some uncertainty over language and syntax •Strengths and weaknesses fairly balanced; occasionally clumsy and unimaginative •In creative work: superficial •Not succeeding in mastering the requirements of the medium
-good -Typically, work graded B- to B+ (or 60 to 69) will show many of the following qualities: •Discusses ideas adeptly •Most of the arguments about a specific field are well-aired •Displays knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is relevant •Shows analytical and clear thought •Gives evidence of relevant reading •Shows accuracy in expression with mastery over language. •A few minor errors here and there. •Signs of creative thought deserve a higher position within the class •In creative work: shows signs of originality, having understood the requirements of the medium •Plans of well-balanced and full answers, despite some gaps
-excellent -Typically, work graded A- to A** (or 70 to 100) will show many of the following qualities: •Discusses ideas with confidence and precision •Demonstrates maturity and sophistication •Displays deep knowledge of the subject in question; the answer is totally relevant •Shows independent, analytical and clear thought •Gives evidence of substantial and relevant reading •Shows great accuracy in expression, displaying total mastery over all aspects of the language •Shows occasional signs of brilliance and originality of thought •In creative work: displays considerable originality •Command over medium; may have potential for publication/production
- Communicate individual research effectively via oral and visual means.
- Critically evaluate the literary quality of the texts studied on the module.
- Identify and employ critical theory relevant to an understanding of medieval women’s literature.
- Make use of online databases of late medieval texts, developing both IT and critical skills in the process.
- Select, organise and critically evaluate material to produce a consistent and coherent written argument to a deadline.
Presentation of ten minutes examining the subject matter and written strategies of one of the authors studied on the first part of the module.