Literature and Society in Medieval Europe.
This module provides an introduction to medieval literatures and cultures from 900 to 1500. The module introduces key moments in medieval literary history, together with major cultural and linguistic developments. It provides a basic overview of the Middle Ages which will form the basis for more specialised studies. Topics include significant social and cultural issues of medieval life, such as war and chivalry, gender, courtly love, literature and learning, identity and power. Major texts such as `The General Prologue¿ from Chaucer¿s The Canterbury Tales, will be read in translation alongside extracts from a range of other medieval texts such as Beowulf, The Romance of the Rose and The Book of Margery Kempe. This is a compulsory module for the Honours programme in Medieval Studies, and it is also open to students enrolled in any BA programme.
Voices of Poetry
'Voices of Poetry' is an engaging and exciting module which aims to introduce students to poetry and the various voices it articulates. Taught by well-known poets as well as scholars of poetry, this course will introduce students to a wide range of poetic forms and literary periods, ranging from the medieval lyric to postmodern poetry, from Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath. Particular attention will be paid to the interrelationship between meaning and form, and how rhetorical figures, metre, rhythm, tone, register and the speaker's voice create meaning. 'Voices of Poetry' will also foster an appreciation of how poetic forms are re-written in the socio-historical context in which they were produced.
Exploring the Bloody Chamber: Medieval to Postmodern
This module will analyse narratives of female enclosure and gender conflict in a selection of texts from the fourteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Our specific focus is the story of the serial wife-killer Bluebeard: we will begin by examining variants of this fairy-tale narrative before both tracing it back to its mediaeval antecedents and following its continuing presence as an influence on more contemporary texts. In the process, we will discuss theories of gender, race and class in order to account for the persistent presence of this story in Western culture.
Many of the elements of our culture were first imagined or developed in the medieval period, but have continued to speak to post-medieval readers. This module will introduce students to the literature of the medieval period, with a particular emphasis on contacts or encounters between medieval texts and more modern cultures via literary translations and transformations. These translations will include both medieval responses to earlier classical and biblical traditions, and modern re-imaginings of medieval texts and ideas (including the notion of 'medievalism').
A major theme of the course will be the cultural continuities and discontinuities between medieval literature and later texts, and the ways in which medieval narratives and images were adapted to meet the needs of other cultural circumstances. Students will develop an awareness of key aspects of medieval literary culture including ideas of authorship and authority, religious traditions, and romance codes. Students will also gain an understanding of the functions of translation and re-appropriation in literary and cultural production. Although all texts will be available in modern English and fully-glossed versions, the module will equip students with the necessary linguistic skills to read and analyse Middle English texts.
Dissertation - English Literature
The Dissertation is an optional, two-semester, 40-credit module designed to develop high-level academic skills and intellectual independence in the students. A first-semester skills-building programme will include: research skills, summary skills, bibliographic skills, ability to synthesise succinctly, planning and organisational skills, correct presentation of a thesis and bibliography, presentational skills and public speaking. Students conduct research on a subject of their choice, devised in consultation with a member of the English literature staff. The topic will be devised to fall within staff research and teaching specialisms, broadly defined. Students attend group sessions on research skills in Semesters 1 and 2, and have individual meetings with supervisors in Semester 2.
This course examines a selection of Chaucer¿s Canterbury Tales in all their complexity, controversy, and accomplishment. We will focus on a range of genres (romance, lays, fabliaux), themes (class, religion, marriage, sexuality and gender, power, as well as story-telling, authorship and textuality), and cultural preoccupations central to Chaucer¿s age (social mobility, relations between the sexes, moral and religious orthodoxy and deviance). We will pay specific attention to how the texts represent and construct emerging identities in the later Middle Ages. This course emphasises the importance (and rewards) of an attentive work on language and close critical analysis.
Individual project devised and defined in discussion between supervisor and student.
Research Practice in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English
Supervised project on research methodology in practice. Students build a detailed bibliographical plan for their MA dissertation project.
The Queer Middle Ages: Bodies, Textuality and Objects
This module engages with the multiple ways in which the Middle Ages encountered and manifested the queer. It aims at introducing students to recent theoretical concerns which open up new and stimulating ways of reading medieval culture. The current critical focus on queer subjectivities, the affective turn in literary studies, alongside reflections on the queer touch, invite us to consider medieval textuality, in particular, as the material site on which encounters with the queer (i.e. female masculinity; queer time and space; queer phenomenology; transitional gender, sex and species identities; same-sex desire etc.) are made possible, but also closely policed. Specific attention will be paid to texts in the context of the manuscripts in which they were transmitted. As a porous surface, or a site of negotiation between multiple agents of productions of texts and meaning, the manuscript page is capacious, as it accommodates a variety of queer identities to be intended, broadly, as human and non-human.
Practising Ideas: Advanced Research Skills in English / Contemporary Writing / Welsh Writing in English
Reading Medieval Manuscripts
Medieval manuscript sources are crucial to our understanding of the Middle Ages. Research across the disciplines of medieval studies is grounded in the study and use of medieval books and documentary sources. This module aims to give students the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage with original manuscript sources of various types, from early Anglo-Saxon Gospel books to medieval chronicles, from illustrated books of hours to critical legal documents. Students will engage with these sources via digital and printed images and full-scale printed facsimiles, learning to recognise and transcribe medieval hands from all periods. Students will be given the chance to read original manuscripts during visits to the West Glamorgan Archive Service (Swansea) and the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth). This module assumes no prior knowledge of medieval manuscripts, nor any prior knowledge of the medieval languages featured in the manuscript samples, including Latin, Old English and Middle English.
Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches
This module introduces students to recent and current trends in medieval studies, to the research skills required for MA-level research, and to the medieval heritage of South Wales and the surrounding region. Seminars will consider the nature of medieval sources and texts, and a selection of themes that have made a significant impact upon medieval studies in recent years.
Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 2: Themes and Sources
This module aims to apply the skills and approaches learned in the module HIMM01: Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches to a range of important themes in Medieval Studies, including gender, identity, laws and customs, spirituality, heritage. The module is interdisciplinary and draws on historical, literary and visual sources. The content of the module will be arranged in 2-weekly blocks, with the first week in each block dedicated to introducing students to the specific theme and the second week being used as a practical application of this knowledge to a source or text.
Directed Reading in Medieval Studies
Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and either historiography or literary criticism, relating to a topic in Medieval Studies which they choose from a wide range of options.