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Narrators & Historical Memory in the Middle Ages - HIS00049I

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Catherine-Rose Hailstone
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

This module will introduce students to a range of medieval historical sources that record the events of late anitiquity and the middle ages up to about the year 1000. The menu will include chronicles, histories, vernacular epics, king lists and genealogies. We will consider the form that memories of the past take in different cultures and the way authors’ circumstances and motivation shape their accounts. Special attention will be given to selected themes: conversion, kingship, conquest and the narrative choices of the authors. The varying contributions of the biblical, classical and vernacular past to the medieval historical imagination will be considered.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to important specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological or geographical focus;
  • To enable them to work on those topics by combining access to the specialised expertise of staff through lectures with their own close study and discussion of issues and reading;
  • To deepen students' understanding and appreciation of a range of historical subjects and issues; and
  • To support students' progression from the broad chronological and conceptual work undertaken at Stage 1 of their programme to more detailed and rigorous study of particular topics.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully will:

  • Have a broad overview of specific historical themes and topics with a clear chronological and geographical focus;
  • Be able to evaluate different interpretations of the subject matter and approaches to it;
  • Gain a critical awareness of the primary material and secondary works used in these interpretations and approaches; and
  • Be able to synthesise information from lectures, discussion groups and reading to make evidence-based arguments both orally and in writing

Module content

Teaching Programme:
This 20-credit module consists of 16 twice weekly lectures delivered in Weeks 2-9 plus one round-up session in Week 10, and eight 90 minute discussion groups.

The lecture programme is likely to include the following:-

  • Memory and the Horizons of History
  • The Christian Historical Revolution: One Revolution or Many
  • Whose story and why?Origin Myths and Identities
  • Bede and Gregory of Tours
  • Annals, Chronicles, and Crises

Discussion groups will deal with the following:-

  • How does a chronicler legitimize a king?
  • Memory and Forgetting in the successor Kingdoms’ stories
  • The silences of Bede
  • Paul the Deacon’s Interrupted History
  • How to invent a genealogy


Task Length % of module mark
2,000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will be required to write a 2,000-word procedural essay, due in either week 5 or week 7 of the autumn term. They will then complete a 2,000-word assessed essay, due in week 1 of the spring term.


Task Length % of module mark
2,000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will typically receive written feedback that will include comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission.

Work will be returned to students in their discussion groups and may be supplemented by the tutor giving some oral feedback to the whole group. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work with their tutor (or module convenor) during student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of preliminary reading:

Goffart, Walter A. The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550-800): Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1988.

McKitterick, Rosamond. History and Memory in the Carolingian World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Jackson, Kenneth H. The Oldest Irish Tradition: A Window on the Iron Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964.

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.