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Philology 5: Early Modern English



Abuse, cooking recipes, 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 sociolinguistic backgrounds, including people who were practically illiterate. We will concentrate on spelling, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and style of writing. The course will be taught through Blackboard.

Teaching method

Two-hour seminar per week.

Admission requirements

Successful completion of Philology 1, 2 and 3.

Course objectives

This course builds on experience acquired during the first two years of the BA curriculum in English philology, particularly as it regards the history of the English language. At the end of the course students 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. They will be able to analyse and identify the typical textual and linguistic characteristics of these text types, and apply their skills when writing a BA thesis in the field of Early (or Late) Modern English.

Required reading

  • Terttu Nevalainen (2006). Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Bridget Cusack (1998), Everyday English 1500-1700: A reader. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Test method

Presentation and active course participation (20%), final essay (80%).

Time table

Click here for the timetable


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 supported by Blackboard.