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Philology 4: Early Modern Everyday English


Admission requirements

Philology 3: History of the English Language (or equivalent), and preferably also the course Language & Linguistics: Tools and Methods.


Abuse, accounts, depositions, journals, letters, memoirs, presentments and wills: these are all different text types the study of which aims to illustrate the use of English other than that commonly found in printed documents. In this course, we will read a large variety of texts to study everyday English as it was used from the year 1500 onwards, and during the Early Modern English period (1500-1700) in particular. We will focus on differences between these texts and printed documents, as well as from present-day Standard English. In addition, we will look at texts by men and women, as well as by people from different regional and sociolinguistic backgrounds, including people who were practically illiterate. We will concentrate on spelling, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and style of writing.

Course objectives

This course builds on experience acquired during the first three semesters of the BA curriculum in English philology (Old English, Middle English), particularly as it regards the history of the English language (Philology 3).
At the end of the course, students
1. will have a good insight into the nature and language of different text types from the Early Modern English period (1500–1700), and of their relationship with the more standard printed texts of the time
2. will be able to analyse and identify the textual and linguistic characteristics of a large variety of text types typical of the period
3. will have a good knowledge of the spelling, morphology and syntax of Early Modern (standard and ) non-standard texts as well as of the typical lexis of the text types dealt with
4. will be able to apply their skills when choosing and writing a BA thesis in the field of Early (or Late) Modern English.


The timetable is available on the BA English website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (2 hours a week)

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours, which comprises.

  • attending seminars: 26 hours

  • studying the compulsory literature/preparing weekly assignments: 60 hours

  • preparing for an oral presentation and writing of the final paper (including reading/research): 14 + 40 hours

Assessment method


  • presentation

  • weekly contribution in class

  • final paper


  • presentation (20%)

  • weekly contribution in class (10%)

  • final paper (70%)

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


It will not be possible to do a resit for the first two components (presentation and weekly contribution in class) of this course.


Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.

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.


Blackboard will be used to provide students with the weekly syllabus and additional course information. Students will be expected to post weekly comments and/or questions on the basis of their reading on Discussion Board in Blackboard. These comments are part of the mark for their weekly participation in the course.

Reading list

Nevalainen, Terttu (2006). An Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh University Press.
Cusack, Bridget (1998). Everyday English 1500 – 1700. A Reader. Edinburgh University Press.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

NB: First year students will be enrolled by the coordinator of studies.

Students other than from the BA English language and culture cannot take this course.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk


Students are expected to be in possession of the coursebooks from week 1 onwards. Please note that ordering books from abroad may take longer than expected.