Tutor: Tom Johnson
Module type: MA Option
Module code: HIS00090M
Late-medieval England was awash with information, from gossip and rumours to sermons and songs, to pamphlets, bills, and letters. Vernacular English was gaining ground as a language of literature, government, political discussion, and more controversially, religious debates; a broader base of society – from gentry families like the Pastons of Norfolk to ordinary townsmen gathering in taverns – attempted to keep abreast of the latest news and political developments; and more and more people used, collected, and circulated written material.
This module will explore these developments as part of a developing information culture in fifteenth-century England. What were people expected to know and what did they actually know? How did they go about finding something out, and what could they do with this knowledge? Who, or what controlled the circulation of information? Answering these questions will help us to understand the complexities of late-medieval English society and culture, the concept of a ‘public sphere’, and introduce us to an array of primary sources.
Each week we will look at a different genre or media of information exchange in the context of a wider historiographical theme. Working closely with sources such as literary texts, letter collections, bills, commonplace books, petitions, and sermons (among others) will help us to understand the diversity of available material from this period, and the range of critical interpretations that go with them. It will also direct our discussions towards broader debates about heresy and dissent, New Historicism, and political culture.
The provisional outline for the module is as follows:
For more information, please visit the module catalogue.