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Philology 5: Middle English Literature


Admission Requirements

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


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.

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.


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

Mode of Instruction

Two hour seminar per week.


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.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Elaine Treharne, ed., Old and Middle English c. 890-c. 1400. An Anthology, 2nd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004) orf 3rd edition, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010).

  • 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 or Third edition, 2009.


Students can register through uSis.

Register for ‘Contractonderwijs’ via:

Contact information

English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or mail: