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Philology 1: Introduction to Middle English Language and Literature



After the Norman Conquest of 1066 the English language and English literature came fully into their own in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and some of his contemporaries in the later fourteenth century. This course will concentrate on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: we will read some of the Tales and “translate” parts of them in tutorial, for which elementary Middle English grammar will be studied. In order to understand these remote texts properly, the lectures will deal with aspects of the cultural history of the Middle Ages: social structure, church and clergy, ideas about nature, love, sex, marriage, dress and food, life and death, and especially the tension between ideal and reality.

Course objectives

Reading and translation of fourteenth-century English; elementary Middle English grammar; cultural history of the Middle Ages; oral production and interaction in Modern English.

Time table

Click here for the timetable

Teaching method

One hour lecture and one hour seminar per week.

Test method

Written short-question examination.


This course is not supported by Blackboard.

Required reading

  • The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, Oxford University Press Paperback, 1988.

  • Reader with background material.


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail: