This course is devoted to books made in England prior to the introduction of the printing press. It provides an overview of the different kind of manuscripts available in medieval England (both in Latin and the vernacular), with an emphasis on the period 1100-1500. What do the objects look like and how may we explain their material features? Who produced them and for whom were they made? Is there a relationship between form and function, or between form and intended user? The course expressly emphasizes how information about the material book may be incorporated in studies that are primarily aimed at texts. Each weekly seminar will put centre stage one particular canonical manuscript (e.g. the Beowulf manuscript, the Vernon manuscript) as well as one particular aspect of book culture (e.g. scribes, compilation techniques, commercial production of books). Throughout the course, students will frequently handle medieval manuscripts themselves.
To introduce students to the culture of the handwritten book in medieval England.
To demonstrate the broad range of books in which literature circulated in medieval England.
To develop a critical understanding of how knowledge of medieval books may be employed in other disciplines, especially the study of literature.
Research MA students should reveal in their coursework a more nuanced understanding of the complex relationship between social formations and cultural productions by means of a more detailed and thorough theoretical/methodological framework.
The timetable is available on the Literary Studies website.
Mode of instruction
Total course load: 280 hours.
Attending seminars: 28 hours.
Studying compulsory readings: 100 hours.
Class presentation: 10 hours.
Preparing weekly discussion questions: 22 hours.
Essay/outline writing: 120
Essay outline: 15%
Class participation: 25%
Discussion questions: 10%.
Research MA students will have to write an extra 3000 word paper on a topic to be decided in consultation with the tutor.
Blackboard will be used (general information, supplying additional readings)
Morgan, N.J. and Thomson, R.M. (2014), The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume 2, 1100-1400 (Cambridge University Press). Paperback. Also available online via UB Leiden OPC.
Gillespie, A. and Wakelin, D. (2014), The Production of Books in England 1350-1500 (Cambridge University Press). Paperback.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch
When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies: Jurjen Donkers.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs
For questions concerning the course content or blackboard module contact the instructor of the course: J.P.C. Janzen- MA.
Literary Studies departmental office
Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA