ENGL 4113 History and Culture of Medieval England

ENGL 4113: History and Culture of Medieval England

Instructor Contact            

Rachael Deagman

Email:  Rachael.Deagman@Colorado.EDU

Course Description:

In this course, we will explore the extraordinarily rich literature, history, and culture of medieval England. The class contains four units that allow us to explore the Middle Ages across time periods and disciplines: song and poetry, medieval women, religion and resistance, art and architectural history, and drama. In some ways, these materials will seem very alien and challenging – the culture is quite distinct from our own. But we’ll also learn to recognize how medieval life anticipates and informs our own historical moment.

Learning Objectives:

Students who read closely and carefully and who actively participate in the work of the course will have the ability to do the following by the end of term:

  • Interpret and analyze the assigned poems and plays with a particular emphasis on language, genre, poetic form, and performance space;
  • Identify important cultural contexts of medieval English literature such as sacramental culture, religious reform, the alliterative revival, feudalism and the rise of the market economy, and chivalry/court culture;
  • Describe important historical events in late medieval England including the Bubonic Plague, the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt, the history of Wycliffites and the translation of the Bible, the history of literacy and manuscript culture, the rise of the printing press;
  • Memorize and recite Middle English poetry;
  • Write clear, concise, analytical prose.

Required Texts:

George Economou, William Langland’s “Piers Plowman”: The C Version; A Verse Translation.

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. Print.


The percentage breakdown is as follows:

Syllabus Quiz:  5%

Translation Assignment: 10%

Close Reading Assignment: 10%

Midterm Essay: 15%

Final Project: 25%

Discussion Posts: 35%

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8:00am to 5:00pm


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University of Colorado Boulder
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Boulder, Colorado