Accessibility statement

The Medieval Book - MST00065M

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  • Department: Centre for Medieval Studies
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Holly James-Maddocks
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

Middle English writing is profoundly conditioned by its circumstances of production and dissemination. Hand-crafted and unique, the manuscript invites us to consider how our readings of medieval texts can be modified in light of their material contexts. In other words, how does the material form in which we read a text matter to the meaning of that text?

This course offers an advanced introduction to the challenges of finding, editing, and interpreting Middle English writings from a pre-print culture, with practical instruction in the skills required by editors and literary critics of medieval texts. While some seminars will focus on issues relating to textual criticism, the majority will consider different aspects of codicological study (materials, script, illumination, binding, attribution, provenance, etc.), providing insight into the research methods employed by specialists.

There will be an opportunity for first-hand examination of medieval books where the focus will be on writing a formal description of a manuscript (or a ‘copy-specific’ record of an early printed book). The purpose of this course is to encourage students to look at the Middle English text in its manuscript-form and, as a result, to develop some of the specialist skills necessary for advanced work in medieval studies.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

The aim of this module is to offer you an advanced introduction to the challenges of finding, editing, and interpreting Middle English writings from a pre-print culture, with practical instruction in the skills required by editors and literary critics of medieval texts.

Module learning outcomes

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

1. An enhanced appreciation of the difficulties of establishing the authorial text of medieval literary works and basic skills for preparing editions of such works;

2. The ability to read a medieval literary text in its original context, the handwritten book;

3. Knowledge of the vocabulary of manuscript description and ability to apply information acquired from first-hand examination of manuscript context to the interpretation of texts;

4. Confidence in handling and examining medieval manuscripts;

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

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Module 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.

Indicative reading

  • Christopher de Hamel, Scribes and Illuminators (London: The British Library, 1992).
  • Raymond Clemens and Timothy Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies (Cornell University Press, 2007)
  • Kathryn Kerby-Fulton, Maidie Hilmo, and Linda Olson, Opening Up Middle English Manuscripts: Literary and Visual Approaches (Cornell University Press, 2012)



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.