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Philology 5: Middle English Literature and Culture


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Philology 1, 2 and 3, or equivalent courses.


This course offers a survey of the rich Middle English Literature (12th to 14th centuries) and elaborates on Philology 1 (which is why Chaucer will not be dealt with): propagandistic chronicle, serious religious instruction, exciting romance, lyrical poetry, teasing fable, titillating fabliau, highbrow allegory, lively drama. All texts will be read in the original, if with the help 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

The student acquires:

  • Proficiency in translating Middle English in various dialects

  • Abilties in interpreting representative texts from the various genres of medieval literature in their cultural-historical context

  • Skills in oral discussion and written analysis;

  • Practice with elementary secondary sources
    Successful completion of the course will enable the student to write a B.A. paper on a Middle English subject and to follow a course in Middle English at the M.A. level.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction


Assessment 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.


Yes, see Blackboard

Reading list

  • Elaine Treharne, ed., Old and Middle English c. 890 – c. 1400: An Anthology, Third Edition, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

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

  • 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, Third edition, Amsterdam: V.U. University Press, 2009.

  • Supplementary background material via Blackboard.

Registration Studenten melden zich aan via uSis. Eerstejaarsstudenten kunnen zich niet aanmelden. De indeling in de werkgroepen wordt door de administratie gedaan. Bij problemen kan men het secretariaat raadplegen; tel. 071 5272144 of

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
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Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.