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Middle English from Script to Print


Admission requirements

Participants should be familiar with Middle English


Too little do we realize when we are reading medieval texts that they have been preserved in manuscripts. In this course we shall follow the process from handwritten text to printed edition. First we shall study a number of Middle English texts in various dialects, parts of which we shall read in the original from facsimiles of the manuscript. Such an approach gives us particular insight into the diversity of Middle English dialects and scripts. In the second half of the course we shall discuss, with the help of manuscript texts that have not yet been published, the most important steps that have to be taken in order to arrive at a readable edition, such as: the transcription (paleography); critical or diplomatic edition; glossary; explanatory commentary. In this course the digitalization of the discipline will receive ample attention.

Course objectives

This course builds on experience acquired as part of a BA curriculum in Old and Middle English language, literature and culture. The students will extend their skills and insights into philology, including paleography, and learn to apply them to a variety of texts, both edited and in manuscript. At the end of the course, the students will be able to carry out empirical work by means of manuscript facsimiles, electronic corpora, read and interpret relevant literature independently, and present their research results in the form of an edition of an unpublished Middle English text, both orally and in written form. Following the completion of the course, students will be well equipped to write their MA thesis on a topic in English philology.


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

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load for the course: 280 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 28 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory secondary literature: 76 hours

  • Time for class presentation: 8 hours

  • Time for weekly preparations of text: 98 hours

  • Final paper: 70 hours

Assessment method

  • essay, assignments, etc. 70%

  • class presentation, weekly written questions 30%

In the case of a fail, you are entitled to rewrite your your final paper.


Blackboard is used on a weekly basis

Reading list

Robert D. Fulk, An Introduction to Middle English (Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2012). ISBN 9781551118949, pb.
V. McCarren and D. Moffat, eds., A Guide to Editing Middle English (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1998) ISBN 047210604-X
Christopher de Hamel, Scribes and Illuminators (London: British Museum, 1992) ISBN 0-7141-2049-9


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 527 2251/2101 or mail:

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is January 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA.

Contact details

Literary Studies student administration Van Wijkplaats 3, room 002. Tel. 071 527 2251 or mail:
Coordinator of studies: Ms S.J. de Kok, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.