Romance from Chaucer to Shakespeare (EAS3228)

StaffDr Elliot Kendall - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 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 you to primary research materials, including digitised 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 you 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 you the opportunity to develop your 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

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Romance then: Chrétien de Troyes, Cligés and Yvain, and the lais of Marie de France
  • Romance now: the western (Shane) and Disney (Frozen)
  • Families, friendship and other mishaps: Sir DegaréAmis and Amiloun and Undo Your Door
  • Troy/London: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde
  • Somewheres vs anywheres: Malory’s Arthuriad, Robin Hood and Sir Cleges
  • The early modern medieval: Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene and John Fletcher and William Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen
  • 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 learning and teaching33Seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching6Screenings
Guided independent study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study158Research, reading, and 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 and summary3015 minutes and 300 words1-9In class questions; feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay 7040001-6, 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 2000 word essay1-6, 8-9Mitigation deadline or Referral/Deferral period
Essay (4000 words)Essay (4000 words)1-6, 8-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - 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. P. J. C. Field (Boydell and Brewer, 2017), single vol. paperback edn
  • 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)

You should purchase copies of the primary texts, although do be aware that the above is an indicative list only, and may change from year to year. For an up-to-date list, see the module’s ELE page. Other texts will be provided on ELE 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:

  • Marion Turner, ed., A Handbook of Middle English Studies (Blackwell, 2013)
  • 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

Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Jan 2013

Last revision date


Key words search

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