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.
This is a skills-based module which will equip students with the technical and critical expertise that is necessary for their academic journey in English Literature and Creative Writing. It is designed to support the transition from post-16 study to undergraduate study and to show students *how* to become successful scholars of English. How should we read texts? How do we write essays? Focusing on an exciting anthology of texts selected by the English academics at Swansea, this team-taught module uncovers the power of written language. We will explore how writers inspire and challenge their readers, how to think critically, how to close-read, how to construct powerful arguments and how to produce written work that is rigorous, academic and convincing. This module empowers students to think, write, and persuade.
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.
Shakespeare is often figured as a universal writer who tells us something essential about the human condition; he has been imagined as both a national poet and the world¿s dramatist. But can Shakespeare really be universal? This module invites students to rethink many of the standard assumptions about Shakespeare. The writer Ben Jonson described as the `sweet swan of Avon¿ was also responsible for plays of horrifying violence and his drama reflects, in unsettling ways, on issues of gender, race, and class. Students will explore five controversial Shakespeare plays: The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and The Tempest. Lectures and seminars introduce the plays in their disturbing complexity: Shakespeare emerges as a deeply equivocal presence in literary and theatrical history. Taking into account the important work of feminist and postcolonial criticism, this module addresses both the radical potential and the frequently conservative application of Shakespeare¿s plays.
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.
Medieval Studies Dissertation
A dissertation of 15,000 - 20,000 words written on a topic decided by the student in consultation with the dissertation supervisor. This represents Part Two of the MA programme in Medieval Studies.
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.
A course designed to help students to identify their dissertation subject, to prepare for it bibliographically, and to plan its research and writing.