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Study information

French Language and Culture in Medieval Britain

Module titleFrench Language and Culture in Medieval Britain
Module codeSMLM238
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Thomas Hinton (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will invite you to study the language history and literary culture of French in Britain from the 12th to the 15th centuries, a vibrant topic at the heart of current research concerns across Medieval Studies. French was used across the social spectrum in medieval Britain. It was the main language of courtly culture, but was also used by merchants and clergy, and anyone with social aspirations, creating one of the most fascinating multilingual situations in Europe and embedding Britain within a wider Francophone sphere reaching from Ireland to the Levant. You will have the opportunity to look at a range of literary and non-literary materials, ranging from Arthurian romance, poetry and Chaucer to household accounts and pedagogical works. Prior knowledge of French is NOT required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to equip you with the intellectual tools to think about the significance of language in the creation and transmission of culture. You will examine the generic, textual and interpersonal networks of medieval Francophone textual culture in Britain. We will ask questions such as: in what contexts was French used? What factors influenced authors’ choice of language? And how did the use of French connect British authors to a wider international cultural world?

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Discuss and evaluate the linguistic, literary and cultural history of the medieval period.
  • 2. Relate medieval texts to their cultural contexts, including visual and material culture.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 3. Demonstrate a sophisticated and intellectually mature ability to analyse the culture of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context.
  • 4. Understand and analyse relevant methodologies and apply these ideas autonomously and appropriately to textual evidence.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 5. Through essay-writing, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and an ability to write clear and correct prose.
  • 6. Through research for module seminars and essays, perform information retrieval and analysis to an advanced level.
  • 7. Through research, 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 content may vary from year to year, it is expected that the module will cover:

- scholarly debates about the evolution and status of the language

- the use of French for composing literary works

- multilingual poetry

- the teaching of French

- the use of French in administrative contexts

- Chaucer’s relationship with Francophone culture and London multilingualism

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 (11 x 2 hour)
Guided Independent Study110Preparation for seminars
Guided Independent Study168Reading, Research, Essay Preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay Plan1000 words1-7Tutorial follow-up

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
Research report302500 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay705000 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for 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
Research report (2500 words)Research report (2500 words)1-7Referral/Deferral period
Essay (5000 words)Essay (5000 words)1-7Referral/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

  • Ardis Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language and Nation in the Hundred Years War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Thelma Fenster and Carolyn P. Collette, eds., The French of Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Jocelyn Wogan-Browne (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2017).
  • Richard Ingham, ‘Mixing Languages on the Manor’, Medium Aevum 78.1 (2009): 80-97
  • Christopher Kleinhenz and Keith Busby, eds., Medieval Multilingualism: The Francophone World and its Neighbours (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011).
  • Elizaveta Strakhov, Continental England: Form, Translation, and Chaucer in the Hundred Years War (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 2022).
  • David Trotter, ‘Deinz certeins boundes: Where Does Anglo-Norman Begin and End?’, Romance Philology 67.1 (2013): 139-175.
  • Jocelyn Wogan-Browne et al., eds., Language and Culture in Medieval Britain: The French of England, c.1100-c.1500 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2009).
  • Jocelyn Wogan-Browne, Thelma Fenster and Delbert W. Russell, eds., Vernacular Literary Theory from the French of Medieval England: Texts and Translations, c.1120–c.1450 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2016).

Key words search

Medieval, Middle Ages, French, multilingualism, language, translation, Chaucer

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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