MEDIEVAL WOMEN’S WRITING - 2020/1

Module code: ELIM046

Module Overview

This module explores the centrality of texts written by and for medieval women to both the history of medieval literature and to women’s literary history. Students will be introduced to a range of works written for and about women in England between the 11thand 15thcenturies and will examine in detail the major female authors writing from the 12th to the 15th centuries, such as the courtly writer Marie de France, the English woman mystic Julian of Norwich, and the visionary Margery Kempe. Texts will be read either in Middle English or in modernized versions, or (in the case of texts written in the French of the English, in translation). The module will explore a range of literary forms and genres, including saints’ lives, romance and lais, mystical and visionary writing and women’s letters. Students will be asked to critically analyse and/or engage creatively with the texts, paying attention to their linguistic, literary, religious and socio-historical contexts and focusing on issues such as antifeminism, social hierarchies, literacy, multingualism and multi-culturalism, and gender and sexuality. 

Module provider

School of Literature and Languages

Module Leader

WATT Diane (Lit & Langs)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

JACs code: Q320

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

n/a

Module content

Indicative content includes:

Week 1: Introduction: Medieval Women’s Writing then and now

Week 2: Exemplary Lives

Week 3: Courtly Literature

Week 4: Anchoritic Literature

Week 5: Anchoritic Literature

Week 6: Radical Theology 1

Week 7: Radical Theology 2

Week 8: Visionary Women 1

Week 9: Visionary Women 2

Week 10: Women’s Letters

Week 11: Tutorials

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Critical Essay (4000 words) OR Creative Portfolio (3000 words) + Critical Commentary (1000 words) 100

Alternative Assessment

n/a

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the module learning outcomes.

Seminar discussion with ongoing tutor feedback is designed to assess professional/practical skills in communicating ideas orally and transferable skills in working individually and collaboratively. It also assesses subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of medieval women’s writing. Seminars also assess cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking and in the analysis of literary form and language.

The 4000-word critical essay assesses subject knowledge relating to the close analysis of form, meaning and language, as well as cognitive/analytical skills in critical thinking, and professional/practical skills in communicating ideas in writing. It also assesses subject knowledge relating to formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of medieval women’s writing. The 4000-word essay further assesses transferable skills, namely the ability to conduct research for written work in an organised and critical fashion and to develop and communicate imaginative and rigorous arguments.


The 3000-word creative portfolio and 1000-word critical commentary encourages the development of students’ skills in creative writing (prose fiction, drama and/or poetry) and their understanding of the context of their work in historical and cultural terms, as well as in terms of other creative writing in the field. Productive and informed critical reflection on both the literary writing itself and the secondary material that surrounds it will provide a context for their creative writing on themes related to developments in the literary and creative industries.

The summative assessment for this module consists of:


  • A critical essay (4000 words)



or


  • A creative portfolio (3000 words) + critical commentary (1000 words)



Formative assessment and feedback

Formative ‘feed forward’ is provided through seminar discussion and tutor feedback in seminars.

Module aims

  • Introduce students to medieval women’s writing and to analyse its emergence in the context of its linguistic, historical and religious context
  • Expand students knowledge of a range of literary forms and genres
  • Enable students to think critically about differences and similarities between the distant past the present day
  • Equip students to identify and interrogate the ways in which medieval women’s writing challenges both conventional literary history (the established ‘canon’) and women’s literary history
  • Enable students to hone their critical and analytical skills through the examination of source and critical texts focussed on the production of medieval women’s writing
  • Encourage students to develop their own writerly styles and abilities in the light of or by engaging with medieval women’s writing

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed Ref
001 Recognise the cultural importance of medieval women’s writing K
002 Demonstrate advanced critical thinking and detailed engagement with scholarship on medieval women’s writing C
003 Analyse key issues challenged by medieval women’s writing KC
004 Communicate orally in group discussion and in written form in the written assessment KCT
005 Work individually and as part of the group PT
006 Develop a creative project connected to one of the strands of medieval women’s writing explored in this module and facilitate productive reflection on the creative process [Creative Writing students] KCP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Overall student workload

Independent Study Hours: 128

Seminar Hours: 22

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to deliver subject knowledge, to develop cognitive/ analytical skills, and to develop in-depth transferable, practical, and professional skills. The delivery of the module through two-hour seminars places an emphasis on student-led learning, and enables students to develop their skills in analysing, communicating, and debating ideas. The module content is research-led and asks students to develop a sophisticated understanding of formal, contextual, critical, and theoretical approaches to the study of medieval women’s writing literature. This relates to the programme learning and teaching strategy, which, at FHEQ Levels 6 and 7, is designed to develop subject knowledge through two-hour seminars and to develop transferable and professional skills, with an emphasis on sophisticated student-led involvement, critical analysis and discussion.

The learning and teaching methods include:

2-hour seminar per week x 11 weeks

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Reading list for MEDIEVAL WOMEN’S WRITING : http://aspire.surrey.ac.uk/modules/elim046

Other information

n/a

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Creative Writing MA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
English Literature MA 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.