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Study information

Crossing Medieval Boundaries

Module titleCrossing Medieval Boundaries
Module codeEASM180
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Naomi Howell ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Crossing Medieval Boundaries will explore texts and traditions from across the medieval period, including works in Old English (in translation) and Middle English. The module will explore cultural contacts and the reception of extra-Christian narratives in the Middle Ages, and will examine how medieval narratives were received and rewritten in the early modern era. Working across genres and media (including visual and material culture), we will explore how literature and related culture challenge, police, and transgress boundaries between cultures, genders, the religious and the secular, magic and science, nature and the supernatural, and human and animal.

Module aims - intentions of the module

To introduce you to new perspectives on a range of canonical and lesser-known works of medieval English literature, troubling boundaries between periods, genres and cultures. You will examine the connections between texts and contexts, and explore a range of texts written between the tenth and the sixteenth century. The module is also designed to develop your skills in researching and writing about medieval culture.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of specific authors and works of the medieval period
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced appreciation of the literary and cultural history of the medieval period
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to relate medieval texts to cultural contexts, including contexts of reception and adaptation across historical periods.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Demonstrate a sophisticated and intellectually mature ability to analyse the literature an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and precise ability to work from the detail of literary texts, with a full appreciation of their formal aspects.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Through seminar work and presentations, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate your views convincingly both individually and in groups.
  • 8. Through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose.
  • 9. Through research for seminars, essays, and presentations demonstrate an advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.
  • 10. Through research, seminar discussion, and essay writing demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect on your own learning process

Syllabus plan

While the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Crossing Periods I: Antiquity, Old English, Middle English
  • Crossing Periods II: Medieval Texts in Early Modern England
  • Crossing Borders I: Travel and Cultural Encounters
  • Crossing Borders II: Travelling Tales
  • Crossing Media: Text and Object
  • Crossing Genres: Romance, Folklore, History, Hagiography
  • Betwixt and Between I: Monsters and Marvels
  • Betwixt and Between II: Human/ Animal
  • Betwixt and Between III: The ‘Mixed Life’

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars
Guided Independent Study110Seminar preparation
Guided Independent Study168Reading, Research, Essay Preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1252500 words1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with tutorial follow-up
Essay 2755000 words1-6, 8-10Feedback sheet with tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1 (2500 words)Essay 1 (2500 words)1-6, 8-10Referral/Deferral period
Essay 2 (5000 words)Essay 2 (5000 words)1-6, 8-10Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

  • Kevin Crossley-Holland, The Anglo-Saxon World: an anthology (Oxford World's Classics, 1999)
  • Thomas More, The History of King Richard III and Selections from the English and Lain Poems, ed. Richard Sylvester (Yale UP, 2009)
  • Reynard the Fox: A New Translation, trans. James Simpson (Liveright, 2015)
  • William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard III, ed. John Jowett(Oxford World’s Classics, 2000)


Secondary Reading:

  • Neil Cartlidge, ed, Boundaries in Medieval Romance (2008)
  • Richard H. Godden, Asa Simon Mittman, eds, Monstrosity, Disability, and the Posthuman in the Medieval and Early Modern World (2019)
  • Geraldine Heng, Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy (2004)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Medieval, Old English, translation, visual culture, material culture, magic

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date