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Philology 5: Early Modern Everyday English


Admission requirements

Philology 3 (or equivalent)


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.

Course objectives

This course builds on experience acquired during the first two years of the BA curriculum in English philology, particularly as it regards Old and Middle English language and 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

  • will be able to analyse and identify the textual and linguistic characteristics of a large variety of text types typical of the period

  • will have a good knowledge of the spelling, morphology and syntax of Early Modern (standard and ) non-standard texts as well as of the typical lexis of the text types dealt with

  • will have acquired good working experience of relevant tools for studying and analysing texts from the period

  • will be able apply their skills when choosing and writing a BA thesis in the field of Early (or Late) Modern English.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

The course load of this course is 140 hours.

  • hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 26 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory literature/preparing weekly assignments: 60 hours

  • time to prepare for an oral presentation and the writing of a paper (including reading/research): 15 + 40 hours

Assessment method

  • presentation 15%

  • final paper 75%

  • weekly contribution in class 10%


This course is supported by blackboard.

Reading list

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

  • Cusack, Bridget (1998). Everyday English 1500 – 1700. A Reader. Edinburgh University Press.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the coordinator of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail: english@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


English Language and Culture departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; english@hum.leidenuniv.nl.
Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.