Women's Devotional Literature in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods
Run by School of Arts, Culture and Language
30.000 Credits or 15.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Prof Sue Niebrzydowski
Overall aims and purpose
This module focuses on a wide range of writing by women in the medieval and early modern periods, exploring the concept of devotion – secular as well as sacred – as a dominant concern of these early women writers. Students will investigate the interplay of faith, desire, gender, genre, and creativity in women’s writing of devotion across an excitingly diverse variety of texts from the Middle Ages through to the late seventeenth century. In doing so, those following the module are encouraged to develop an understanding of a number of appropriate critical approaches to medieval and early modern texts, including historicist and feminist debates concerning the contexts of production, authorship and textual transmission. Students are also encouraged to question the usefulness of period labels such as ‘medieval’ and ‘early modern’, and to uncover continuities as well as contrasts between pre- and post-Reformation writing.
This module explores a wide selection of published and manuscript texts that demonstrate the breadth, continuities and dissimilarities of late medieval ad early modern women’s devotional writing practices (both religious and secular). Graduate students will be introduced to the writing of anchorites, mystics, mothers and lovers, from across the social spectrum, who expressed their devotion in a variety of genres and for widely differing audiences. The material under discussion emerges in forms as varied as translation, lyric poetry, letters, early autobiographical writing, exegesis, polemic, prophecy and prayer. This module offers opportunities for students to develop and pursue highly innovative lines of research in the analytical comparison of devotional writing from pre- and post-Reformation England.
70% and above Typically (A), the work of a candidate reaching Distinction will show many of the following qualities: • Thorough knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Thorough knowledge of a range of sources and the capacity to engage these critically. • Introduction and discussion of original ideas. • Relevant, well-organised and sophisticated argument. • High ratio of analysis to exposition. • Maturity, clarity and cogency of expression. • Excellent handling of quotation and references.
50-59% A Pass (C) candidate’s work will show many of the following qualities: • A satisfactory level of knowledge, analysis and expression. • Some familiarity with, and understanding of, relevant theoretical issues. • Generally sound organisation of argument, with some critical ability. • Accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.
60-69% A (B) candidate’s work reaching Merit will show many of the following qualities: • An advanced level of factual knowledge. • Significant [substantial] knowledge of relevant theories and types of analysis. • Some evidence of original thought. • The ability to organise and argue effectively, make balanced judgements, and demonstrate critical thought. • Fluent and accurate expression. • Competent use of quotation and references.
Understand, analyse and discuss the selected module texts and contextual materials.
Consider differing critical attitudes to these texts, and assess the contribution of relevant theories of gender, religion and literary history.
Show an advanced awareness of the interrelationships of text, context, authorship, audience and textual transmission
Teaching and Learning Strategy
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
Subject specific skills
- The ability to organise and present ideas within the framework of a structured and reasoned argument in written and/or oral assignments and class discussions. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
- Critical skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of primary and secondary sources in the target language and/or English or Welsh (incl. filmic, literary and other sources). (Benchmark statement 5.13, 5.14, 5.15)
- Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other written and project work; bibliographic skills, including the accurate citation of sources and consistent use of conventions and appropriate style in the presentation of scholarly work. (Benchmark statement 5.10, 5.14, 5.15)
- The ability to write and think under pressure and meet deadlines. (Benchmark statement 5.15)
- The ability to write effective notes and access and manage course materials including electronic resources / information provided on online learning platforms and library resources. (Benchmark statement 5.15, 5.16)
- The ability to comprehend, critically engage with and apply relevant theoretical concepts to materials being studied. (Benchmark statement 5.10)
- The ability to engage in analytical, evaluative and original thinking. (Benchmark statement 5.14)
Resource implications for students
The texts studied in seminar are available primarily as e-copies and hard copy available in the University Library. Less readily available texts will be provided as photocopy.