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Topic 11: Medieval English literature

  1. Christianity coming to the English. The early development of Latin and vernacular prose in England: Aldhelm, Bede, Alcuin. The Alfredian revival. The Benedictine reform and late Anglo-Saxon prose. Ælfric and Wulfstan.
  2. Old English elegiac and religious poetry -- characteristics of Old English poetry and versification -- new topic and traditional composition.
  3. Old English heroic poetry: Germanic or Christian? -- Beowulf and the shorter heroic poems.
  4. Middle English lyric poetry -- the courtly and the religious tradition. Other genres in early Middle English: The Owl and the Nightingale.
  5. Romances. Historical sources, Anglo-Norman and English developments. -- Sir Orfeo.
  6. The Alliterative Revival, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The later development of the Arthurian topic: Sir Thomas Malory.
  7. Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.
  8. The Canterbury Tales: layout and meaning -- the frame, important topics, e.g., the marriage group.
  9. The Canterbury Tales: characters and their tales.
  10. The Canterbury Tales: a collection of medieval genres.
  11. The allegorical tradition, Chaucer's dream allegories, Pearl, Piers Plowman.
  12. Medieval drama -- the development of the early theatre, mystery cycles and moralities -- ways of performance.

Compulsory reading

Old English Literature

Middle English Literature

Text anthologies

All other works have individual editions in modern English translation.

Literary histories and other useful books


last edited on Sat May 31 21:44:41 CEST 2003, by peter.szigetvari@elte.hu