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Last modified: 28 Jun 2018 10:27

Course Overview

This course explores the representation of love, sex, and desire in a range of medieval texts, from the explicit satire of the fabliaux to devotional writing. It will address the relationship between gender and desire, the historical development of conceptions of sex, and the interplay between sacred and secular forms of desire. 

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Elizabeth Elliott

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?


What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course aims to introduce students to a range of key texts in late medieval literature: prose, dream and lyric poetry, theology, and philosophy. Engaging with modern theoretical readings of this material, we will explore the issues at stake in the representation of love, both sacred and secular during the Middle Ages.Texts to be studied will typically include Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, lyric poetry, The Pearl, fabliaux in translation, excerpts from The Trials and Joys of Marriage, and Julian of Norwich. Students successfully completing the course will develop:
  • critical awareness of the ideas shaping the representation of love, sex, and desire in medieval writing 
  • an ability to analyse the concept of 'courtly love' and its development 
  • an ability to engage critically with texts in Middle English, and a familiarity with secondary approaches to this material. 
  • critical insight into the history of sexuality, and conceptions of sex before sexuality. 

In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

More Information about Week Numbers

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Essay 1 (2500 words): 35%; Essay 2 (3500 words): 45%; Presentation: 10%; Seminar participation: 10% Resit: For honours students only: candidates achieving a CAS mark of 6-8 may be awarded compensatory level 1 credit. Candidates achieving a CAS mark of less than 6 will be required to submit a new essay.

Formative Assessment

Oral feedback through seminars; written feedback through essay-cover sheets and SAM sheets.


Students will receive prompt oral feedback in seminars, and will receive formal written feedback on essays within three weeks of submission.

Course Learning Outcomes


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