Module QXE-3096:
Medieval Women's Literature

Module Facts

Run by School of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics.

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Sue Niebrzydowski

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To introduce students to a range of secular and religious works commissioned by, written for and by medieval women.

  2. To study the relationship of these texts to their historical and cultural contexts, particularly in relation to the construction of medieval womanhood.

  3. To analyse ‘women-associated’ literary works of different genres and the strategies used by medieval women to voice their opinions.

  4. To introduce students to the range of critical opinion concerning medieval women’s literature, and enable participation in the ongoing critical discussion of these texts.

Course content

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 texts from the range of literature written and read by women, and 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. This module is an ideal companion to any of the other level three medieval literature modules.

Assessment Criteria

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

Learning outcomes

  1. Select, digest and organise material and produce a consistent and coherent argument, presented in essay form, to a deadline.

  2. Make use of online databases of late medieval texts, developing both IT and critical skills in the process.

  3. Analyse, interpret and evaluate the literary quality of the Middle English texts studied on the module.

  4. Participate in the ongoing critical discussion of these texts and their authors, genres, reception and intertextuality.

  5. Relate the texts to their original literary and cultural contexts, particularly those of the literary construction of womanhood and women’s textual responses to this.

  6. Identify and make use of ideas and theories relevant to an understanding of medieval women’s literature.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay Two 50
ESSAY Essay One 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study

In your private study time you are expected to read the primary texts allocated for each seminar discussion, and relevant critical material.

176
Seminar

Week by week in seminars you will have opportunity to discuss a range of medieval women's writing, and critical reponses to these texts.

24

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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
  • 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

  • Awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning (English Benchmark Statement 2.1; 2.2; 3.1.3; 3.1.7; 3.1.11; 3.2.8).
  • Command of a broad range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology (English Benchmark Statement 3.1.9; 3.2.6).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis and the ability to acquire substantial quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of the distinctive interpretative skills of the subject (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.2; 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.3.3; 3.3.5; 3.3.8; 3.3.12; 3.3.13).
  • The ability to work with and in relationship to others through the presentation of ideas and information and the collective negotiation of solutions (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.9; 3.3.10).
  • Sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects upon communication of circumstances, authorship, textual production and intended audience (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.8; 2.3.; 3.1.2; 3.2.3).
  • Comprehension of the complex nature of languages, and an awareness of the relevant research by which they may be better understood (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.10).
  • Critical Skills in the close reading, description, reasoning and analysis of texts (English Benchmark Statement 1.3.6; 1.3.9; 2.1; 2.3; 3.2.1; 3.3.1; 3.2.1; 3.3.8; 3.3.12).
  • Competence in the planning and execution of essays, presentations and other writing and project work (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.6).
  • Study skills in researching concepts and contexts by directed reading. (English Benchmark Statement 3.3.22; 3.3.23).
  • The ability to express ideas clearly in discussion and in organised written form. (English Benchmark Statement 3.2.5; 3.2.7; 3.3.11; 3.3.15; 3.3.16; 3.3.21; 3.3.24).
  • The ability to analyse texts, using appropriate critical terminology. ( English Benchmark Statement 3.1.8; 3.2.1; 3.2.6; 3.3.12).
  • Translation skills (Middle English).

Resources

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: