nl en

Philology 6: Middle English Literature and Culture


Admission requirements

Completion of Philology 1 or comparable course.


This course offers a survey of Middle English literature that provides fascinating insight into the literature of the later English Middle Ages and the complex (often conflicted) world that nurtured it. The course elaborates on Philology 1 (which is why Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales will not be dealt with). In combination with background literature, we will read and study a representative selection of Middle English literature: lyrical poetry, titillating fabliau, serious religious instruction, highbrow allegory, exciting romance. Texts will be read in the original Middle English with the help of marginal glosses. We will also explore some of the most exciting and important debates surrounding Middle English literature. After a short lecture on the cultural and historical context of the text(s) read for that week, we will discuss our translations, new insights, and interpretations of the assigned readings in a seminar-style setting.

Course objectives

The student acquires:

  • Proficiency in translating Middle English in various dialects
    *Abilities in interpreting representative texts from the various genres of medieval literature in their cultural-historical context

  • Abilities in interpreting key debates in the field of Middle English literature

  • Skills in oral discussion and written analysis

  • Practice working with secondary sources

Successful completion of the course will enable the student to write a B.A. thesis on a Middle English subject and to follow a course in Middle English at the M.A. level.


The timetable is available on the BA English website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Course Load: 280 hours

  • hours spent attending the seminar: 26

  • time for studying the compulsory literature in preparation for the seminars and writing the assignments: 234 hours

  • time to prepare for the final exam: 20 hours

Assessment method


  • 1) Two assignments

  • 2) Five in-class critical reflections

  • 3) An essay

  • 4) A final exam


Element 1) 20%
Element 2) 5%
Element 3) 25%
Element 4) 50%


When the final grade is 5.49 or lower, one or more of the elements (elements 1, 3 or 4) will have to be retaken during the resit period. There is no resit for the in-class critical reflections (element 2).

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than three tutorials means that students will be excluded from taking the exam (or essay or other assignments) and resits. Consequently, the course cannot be completed during that particular academic year. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • providing students with assignments

  • providing students with additional reading materials

  • providing students with extra information and a sample of the exam

  • essay and assignment submission and feedback

Reading list

*Course reader

  • Elaine Treharne, ed., Old and Middle English c. 890 – c. 1400: An Anthology, Third Edition, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

  • The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, Oxford University Press paperback, 1988 or later editions.

  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 8th edition, 2006, Volume I or Volume A.

  • Supplementary background material via Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students other than BA English language and culture studies need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.


Students are expected to be prepared right from week 1. The work for week 1 is to be found in Blackboard.