1000 Series Course Descriptions (Medieval Literature)

ENG1001HF L0101

Old English I:  Introduction to Old English

Klausner, D. (CHANGE)

Course Description

An introduction for reading knowledge to the oldest literary form of English, with discussion of readings drawn from the surviving prose and verse literature.

Course Reading List


The primary text will be Mitchell and Robinson Guide to Old English, 6th edition or later (Blackwell). 

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements (To be confirmed)

(1) essay due December 10, 2022 -  40% of final mark.
(2) test October 17 - 15% if final mark.
(3) test December 5 - 25% or final mark.
(4) Participation - 20% of final mark.

Previous acquaintance with Latin, German, or other highly inflected language is useful but not essential.

Term: F-TERM (September 2023 to December 2023)
Date/Time: Monday / 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm  (3 hours) 
Location: Contact the Instructor
Delivery: In-Person 


ENG1002HS L0101

Old English II: Beowulf

Michelet, F.

Course Description:  

This course is devoted to a collaborative reading and analysis of the Old English poem Beowulf: its language, its cultural and historical backgrounds, and its style. The work of our class will rely on close and informed attention to the poem's language and rhetorical strategies. In addition, we'll begin to explore some of the more technical aspects of studying Old English verse: possible topics include metrical analysis, paleography, and/or the problems of dating and authorship.

Completion of Old English I or its equivalent is desirable, but not a prerequisite.

Course Reading List

Edition: R. D. Fulk et al., eds., Klaeber's Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, 4th ed. (Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 2008). Secondary texts: TBA.

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements

Regular class attendance and active class participation. Class time will be spent in discussion and translation of the poem. Each student will be required to make several short and informal presentations in this course. Evaluation: class work: 15%; class presentations: 15%; short essay (abstract): 10%; final paper: 60%. 

Term: S-TERM (January 2024 to April 2024)
Date/Time: Friday / 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm (2 hours)
Delivery: In-Person  


ENG1006HF L0101

Medieval Drama: York's Plays and Records

Sergi, M

Course Description:

An archival turn in medieval drama studies began in the 1970s with the Records of Early English Drama (REED) project; it has since been reinvigorated by the digital humanities. For better or worse, we still cannot talk about York’s Corpus Christi plays — a cycle of forty-seven short plays, each based on a different Bible story, each produced on open-air wagon stages by a different local guild from c. 1377 to 1569 — without also talking about York’s contemporaneous civic, financial, and legal records. Students will read through all the York plays (at first with help from a modern-spelling edition, then in untranslated Middle English) and through much of the archives gathered in REED’s York volume — to discover for ourselves what they may reveal about the extant plays, or about other plays now lost — alongside readings from relevant scholarship. Meanwhile, this course will also offer light training and experience in digital humanities, archiving, and indexing, by teaching students (with help from REED staff) how to convert the old hard-copy text of REED: York into a searchable XML document, and then by requiring them to demonstrate those skills in real (if short) contributions to e-REED’s online York Prototype.

Course Reading List:            

The York Corpus Christi plays (Davidson, ed.); The York Corpus Christi Play: Selected Pageants (Fitzgerald, ed. and trans.); selections from Records of Early English Drama: York (Johnston and Rogerson, eds.); King, The York Mystery Cycle and the Worship of the City; a course reader including essays by Johnston, Rice and Pappano, Beckwith, Coletti, et al.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: 

  • 10%: Contributions to REED: York Prototype Digitization
  • 20%: Engagement and Participation in class discussions
  • 30%: Two 10- or 15-Minute Presentations during class discussions (15% each)
  • 40%: Conference-Length Research Paper (20 minutes of material, with an option to extend length), delivered at the final class meeting in mock-conference style
  • Every student is expected to attend all class sessions from the beginning of term (preferably in person, though Zoom may be available); missed classes will have to be made up quickly and energetically.

Term: F-TERM (September 2023 to December 2023)
Date/Time: Wednesday / 10:00 am to 1:00 pm  (3 hours)
Delivery: In-Person 


ENG1012HS L0101

Writing the Self in Late-medieval England: Thomas Hoccleve and Margery Kempe

Sobecki, S.

New Course Description:          

What did it mean to be an “author” in late-medieval England? How do premodern writers compete for authority with scribes and readers? Are fifteenth-century autobiographical narrators literary fictions or biological selves? To answer these questions, we will explore how two of the most exciting and original fifteenth-century English writers, Thomas Hoccleve and Margery Kempe, establish their voices while writing under the conditions imposed by manuscript culture. We will read Thomas Hoccleve’s cycle of five poems, The Series, and his earlier Le Male Regle, as well as The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography by an English writer. Both authors have produced some of the most personal works in medieval England. Hoccleve’s poems try to process his struggles with mental health and personal loss, while Kempe’s extravagant, larger-than-life personality breaks new ground in women’s literature and life-writing. We will discuss premodern concepts of authorship, (auto)biography, social identity, gender, and mental health, alongside exploring material culture. We will follow cutting-edge research and examine Hoccleve’s and Kempe’s works in surviving manuscripts, some of which were written in their author’s own hand.

New Course Reading List:            

  1. Hoccleve, Thomas. ‘My Compleinte’ and Other Poems. Edited by Roger Ellis. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001.
  2. Kempe, Margery. The Book of Margery Kempe. Edited by Anthony Bale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  3. Sobecki, Sebastian. Last Words: The Public Self and the Social Author in Late-medieval England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

New Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:      

  • Participation 10%;
  • Book Review 10%;
  • Presentation 10%;
  • Short Essay 20%;
  • Final Essay 50%.

Term: S-TERM (January 2024 to April 2024)
Date/Time: Monday / 11:00 am to 1:00 pm  (2 hours)
Delivery: In-Person