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Fictions of Audacity: Middle English 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: 2023-24

Module summary

Middle English 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 most important form of secular medieval literature, the origin of the modern novel, and the ancestor of almost all genres of contemporary popular fiction. The purpose of this module is to introduce you to a wide range of understudied, especially verse, romances and to explore the genre’s potential to destabilize any simple assumptions we might have about its cultural ideologies, its aesthetic codes, and its historical consciousness.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2023-24

Module aims

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the most important genre of secular literature to emerge from the English Middle Ages and to help you discover its remarkable audacity.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with Middle English romance and its generic breadth.

  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with the cultural context for the production and reception of Middle English romance.

  3. Evaluate key debates within the relevant critical fields, including a historical understanding of romance criticism and its prevailing ideologies.

  4. Produce independent arguments and ideas which demonstrate an advanced proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.


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

You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your module tutor, the MA Convenor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours.

Indicative reading

Student friendly editions of the romances are available online at the TEAMS Middle English Texts website ( We will read at least: Richard Coeur de Lion, Earl of Tolouse, Octovian Imperator, Undo Your Door/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.