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EN1001 Introduction to Medieval Literature

Summer Reading List 2017-18

Course Tutors: Dr Catherine Nall, Dr Alistair Bennett, Dr Corinne Dale, and Dr Helen McKee

Required Textbooks

Students will need to own the following required textbooks by the start of Spring term (i.e. January 2018):

  • Marsden, Richard, ed., The Cambridge Old English Reader, 2nd edn(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • Burrow, J. A. and Thorlac Turville-Petre, A Book of Middle English, 3rd edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005).
  • Any translation of Beowulf.  Most popular recently has been Seamus Heaney's translation, but you may wish to consult a prose translation to provide a model for your own work, such as E. Talbot Donaldson, Beowulf: A Prose Translation, ed. by Nicholas Howe (London: W. W. Norton, 2002).  There are many other translations available in the library and bookshops.
  • Any translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  Good choices include Simon Armitage’s recent translation and the Oxford World’s Classics translation (by Keith Harrison; note especially the introduction by Helen Cooper).

All your set texts (listed below) are included in these textbooks.


Set Texts

Over the summer, try to read as many of these as possible in translation (and, if you're brave, have a look at them in the original languages, too!).  You can find most of them online, but you will need to purchase good editions by the time the course starts (see the list of required textbooks above).

  • The Wanderer*
  • Beowulf*
  • The Dream of the Rood*
  • The Battle of Brunanburh*
  • Middle English lyrics
  • Sir Orfeo
  • The Reeve's Tale
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • The York Play of the Crucifixion

The Old English texts (marked with * above) can also be found in anthologies. You don't have to buy one, but many are cheaply available online or in a library. Some commonly found anthologies include:

  • Bradley, S. A. J., trans., Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1982)
  • Crossley-Holland, Kevin, trans., The Anglo-Saxon World (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 1982)
  • David, Alfred and James Simpson, eds, The Norton Anthology of English Literature Volume A: The Middle Ages, 8th edn (New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2006) [note this also has modernised versions of some of our Middle English poems, too]
  • Delanty, Greg and Michael Matto, eds, The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation, foreword by Seamus Heaney (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011)
  • Gordon, R. K., trans., Anglo-Saxon Poetry, rev. edn (London: Dent, 1954)
  • Kennedy, Charles W., trans., An Anthology of Old English Poetry  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960)


Background Reading

In addition, it is essential to do some background reading.  There are many excellent introductions to the period’s literature; the following are merely examples. Note that, although you should read some of these, you are not expected to buy them. You may, however, find it useful to own one or two.

  • Alexander, Michael, A History of English Literature (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: MacMillan, 2000), chapters 1 and 2
  • Brown, Peter, A Companion to Chaucer (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)
  • Brown, Peter, A Companion to Medieval Literature and Culture (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007)
  • Burrow, J. A., Medieval Writers and their Work (Oxford, 1982)
  • Ellis, Steve (ed.), Chaucer: An Oxford Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Fulk, R.D. and Christopher M. Cain, A History of Old English Literature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005)
  • Godden, Malcolm and Michael Lapidge, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991)
  • Gray, Douglas (ed.), An Oxford Companion to Chaucer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Gray, Douglas, Later Medieval English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
  • Johnson, David and Elaine Treharne, Readings in Medieval Texts: Interpreting Old and Middle English Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • Lewis, C. S., The Discarded Image (Cambridge, 1964)
  • Liuzza, R. M., ed., Old English Literature: Critical Essays (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002)
  • North, Richard and Joe Allard, Beowulf & Other Stories: A New Introduction to Old English, Old Icelandic & Anglo-Norman Literatures (Harlow: Pearson, 2007)
  • Pearsall, Derek, Old English and Middle English Poetry (London: Routledge, 1977)
  • Saunders, Corinne, A Companion to Medieval Poetry (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010)
  • Turville-Petre, Thorlac, Middle English Literature: An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006)







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