Romance from Chaucer to Shakespeare (EAS3228)

StaffDr Elliot Kendall - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

As well as studying individual texts in depth, we will aim to examine links between texts, and between texts and their social and cultural contexts. The module will introduce students to primary research materials, including digitized medieval manuscripts and facsimile editions of the medieval books through which romances were encountered by their first audiences. The module aims to develop research skills and interpretative methods that will help students to analyse texts from all periods of history and to situate them in various historical contexts. Study group meetings and prepared seminar presentations will give students the opportunity to develop their own approaches to the syllabus texts and other materials.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of specific authors and texts from a period extending from the late twelfth century to the reign of James I
  • 2. Demonstrate an informed appreciation of the literary and cultural history of the late medieval period
  • 3. Demonstrate a capacity to make detailed and theoretically informed connections between premodern literature and the social, sexual, and political issues of its period

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the literature of an earlier era and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary texts

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Through seminar work and the assessed presentation, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to work both individually and in groups
  • 8. Through essay writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 9. Through research for seminars and assessed work, demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis

Syllabus plan

1-2  Chrétien de Troyes, Cligés and Yvain      

3     The lais of Marie de France       

4     Romance now: the western (Shane) and Disney (Frozen)       

5      Families and other mishaps:Sir Degaré, Amis and Amiloun, and Undo Your Door 

6-7  Troy/London: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde 

8     Malory’s Arthuriad 

9     Locality and Centre: Robin Hood and Sir Cleges 

10   Stephen Hawes, The Example of Vertu, and Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene 

11   Shakespeare and Fletcher, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and review

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled 6screenings
Guided independent33study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent70seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent158research, reading, essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Presentation 2515 Minutes1-7, 9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay 251500 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay 503000 words1-6, 8-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PresentationPresentation materials and 750-word reflective piece OR 1500-word essay 1-6, 8-9Mitigation deadline or refer/defer period
Essay 1500 wordsEssay 1500 words1-6, 8-9Refer/defer period
Essay 3000 wordsEssay 3000 words1-6, 8-9Refer/defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 3rd edn (OUP, 1987)

Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances, tr. Kibler (Penguin, 1991)

The Lais of Marie de France, ed. and tr. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby, 2nd edn (Penguin, 1999)

Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, ed. Stephen H. A. Shepherd, Norton Critical Editions (Norton, 2003)

William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, The Two Noble Kinsmen, ed. Eugene M. Waith (OUP, 1989)

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, ed. Thomas P Roche (Penguin, 1978)


Students should purchase copies of the above primary texts. Other texts will be provided in a module reading pack or, in the case of films, screened at scheduled times.

You do not need to purchase the Oxford editions of the Shakespeare plays recommended above. Other good scholarly editions are available and you may, for instance, already own a collected works such as the Riverside or Norton.

Selected secondary texts

James Simpson, Reform and Cultural Revolution, The Oxford English Literary History 2: 1350–1547 (OUP, 2002), chs 3, 6

Gerald Harriss, Shaping the Nation: England 1360–1461 (Clarendon, 2005)

Derek Pearsall, Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction (Blackwell, 2005)

Barry Windeatt, Oxford Guides to Chaucer: Troilus and Criseyde (OUP, 1995)

Reading for week 1

Chretien de Troyes, Cliges. Students are also recommended to read Troilus and Criseyde before the module begins.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Middle English texts:

The Auchinleck manuscript:

Indicative learning resources - Other resources



Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Jan 2013

Last revision date

February 2015

Key words search

romance, Chaucer, Arthur, Gawain, Malory, knight, chivalry, medieval, middle ages, monster, giant, Shakespeare, Troilus