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Fictions of Audacity: Middle English Popular Romance - ENG00013M

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Nicola McDonald
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

Middle English popular romance is the most audacious and compendious testimony to the imaginary world of the middle ages. With more than 100 extant romances, in verse and prose, it is the principle genre of medieval entertainment, the primary form of secular medieval literature, the origin of the modern novel and the ancestor of almost all contemporary popular fiction. The purpose of this module is to challenge modern scholarships disregard for popular romance and to explore the genres potential to destabilize any simple assumptions we might have about its cultural ideologies, aesthetic codes, and historical consciousness.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • a good knowledge of Middle English romance and its generic breadth;
  • an awareness of the cultural context for the production and reception of romance;
  • a historical understanding of romance criticism and its prevailing ideologies

Academic and graduate skills

  • read closely and critically, both primary and secondary material, to a high level;
  • articulate, orally and in writing, innovative and cogent critical arguments


Task Length % of module mark
4,500 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
4,500 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback within 6 weeks of essay submission, and within two weeks for re-assessed work.

Indicative reading

The most important preliminary work students can do is to read as many romances as possible. Student friendly texts are online at the TEAMS Middle English Texts website ( We will read at least: Richard Coeur de Lion, Earl of Tolouse, Octavian, Squire of Lowe Degree, Chevalere Assigne, Le Bone Florence of Rome, Sir Gowther, King of Tars, Sir Degrevant, Eglamour of Artois, Libeaus Desconus, Amis and Amiloun and, for the first seminar, Bevis of Hampton (which you can find here:

Useful places to start for critical reading are:

  • A. Putter and J. Gilbert (eds), The Spirit of Middle English Popular Romance (2000)
  • R. L. Krueger (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance (2000)
  • N. McDonald (ed.), Pulp Fictions of Medieval England: Essays in Popular Romance (2004).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.