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Philology 5: Late Modern English


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Philology 3 or equivalent.


The Late Modern English period (1700-1900) is marked as the period when written and spoken English was codified in spelling books, grammars, and dictionaries. In this course we will investigate how and if these rules were reflected in actual usage by looking at a large variety of texts. As a part of this, we will also consider how different layers of society spoke and wrote by looking at texts by men and women, the nobility, middling sorts, including the labouring poor who were practically illiterate. We will focus on differences between these texts and printed documents, as well as from present-day Standard English. We will concentrate on spelling, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and style of writing, and in doing so we will make use, wherever possible, of relevant databases that are available online. In addition, the Late Modern English period was very important in the development of the Englishes found across the globe. In light of this we will consider how different varieties of English emerged outide the British Isles and consider regional variation as found in various text-types.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course students should

  • have a good understanding of the socio-historical processes that palyed a role in the development of Late Modern English (in the British Isles and beyond)

  • be able to analyse and interpret sets of linguistic and socio-historical data using sociolinguistic theory (and quantitative measures), with a particular focus on the effects of variables such as gender, social class, education, and region;

  • have a good insight into the nature and language of different text types from the Late Modern English period (1700–1900), and of their relationship with the more standard printed texts of the time.

  • have developed the ability to present their research results both orally and in written form


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Mode of instruction

  • A weekly 2-hour seminar

Assessment method


  • Presentation

  • Weekly contribution in class and on Brightspace

  • Final paper
    A written assignment


  • Presentation 15%

  • Weekly contribution in class 10%

  • Final paper 75%


Students will have successfully passed the course if the average course mark is a 6 or higher. No separate component should be lower than 5.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade (2009), An Introduction to Late Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Additional reading material (texts and background reading), available through Brightspace or in one of the reading rooms of the University Library.

Important: Students are expected to have a copy of An Introduction to Late Modern English from week 1 onwards, since it will be used for the weekly reading.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


Dr. M.S. Gordon


Disclaimer: Please note that the course descriptions, in particular the assessment method, might be adjusted (timely) depending on the measures taken regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.