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Philology 6: Middle English Literature



A survey of Middle English Literature (12th to 14th centuries): chronicle, religious instruction, romance, lyrical poetry, fable, fabliau, allegory, drama. All texts will be read in the original, but with marginal glosses. After short introductions to the literary history of the period and the experimental nature of the pristine vernacular literature in its cultural and historical context, translation and interpretation of the texts read will follow in the tutorials.

Teaching method

Two-hour seminar per week.

Admission requirements

A good working knowledge of Middle English and a basic knowledge of medieval culture as acquired in Philology 1.

Course objectives

Translation of Middle English in various dialects; interpretation of representative texts from the various genres of medieval literature in their cultural-historical context; oral discussion and written analysis; practice with elementary secondary sources.

Required reading

  • Elaine Treharne, ed., Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1400. An Anthology, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).

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

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

  • N.H.G.E. Veldhoen & H. Aertsen, eds., Companion to Early Middle English Literature, Second, enlarged edition, Amsterdam: V.U. University Press, 1995.

Test method

Two essays during the course, from which familiarity with the background should also appear, and a written exam consisting of an “unseen” translation; each of these parts counts for one-third of the final mark.

Time table

The timetable will be available from June 1st on the Internet.


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


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


This course is not supported by Blackboard.