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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2008

E 326L • Survey of Middle English Language and Literature

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35095 MW
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
PAR 101
Blockley, M

Course Description

Designed for undergraduates who are interested in English as a language, this course introduces them to the actual language of poems like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight composed between 1066 and 1400, which are often read in translation. They will learn how Middle English developed from Old English (loss of inflections, addition of inflections, new diphthongs, new prepositions), and how the dialects of Middle English influenced various kinds of standard languages developed about the time of Chaucer. We will look at traditional and contemporary grammatical analysis as well as graphic conventions as ways of understanding the sentence structure of medieval writing. This course will examine the language of poetry and prose written before and beyond Chaucer: Havelok the Dane, Brut, and historical and religious writing.

Grading Policy

-Average of the quizzes. There are no makeup quizzes. If you miss one, the others count for more. 10%
-Midterm exam 20%
-Class participation and memorization assignments. The first memorization assignment is due Week IV or before-- it is to recite to me from memory 16 lines from either The Owl and the Nightingale or Brut. There will be an optional memorization assignment after the midterm. 10%
-Papers are due at the beginning of class, printed out, and with documentation of sources. The penalty for a late paper is half a grade (5 points of a possible 100) per class day. Extensions on deadlines may be negotiated in advance given cause. A computer malfunction the morning of class does not qualify as cause, alas. 60%
-Old English Dictionary paper I, assignment attached, due Week II 5%
-Three papers of 3-5 pages on assigned topics (II, III, IV) 10% each
-One longer paper (V) developed from one of the shorter papers (8-12 pages). 15%
-One short research proposal based on secondary sources (writing assignment VI) (2-3 pages). 10%

Attendance policy: Up to three unexcused absences are allowed, though not encouraged. Starting with the fourth unexcused absence, your final average will be lowered by half a grade per absence. Excused absences require documentation or advance approval, not just notification.


Burrow, J. and Thorlac Turville-Petre, A Book of Middle English, 2nd ed. (1996)
Cartlidge, Neil, The Owl and the Nightingale (2001)
Sands, D., Middle English Verse Romances (1966, reprint Exeter 1997)
Treharne, Elaine, ed. Old and Middle English Literature (2000)
Tolkien, J. R. R. and E. V. Gordon, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2nd ed. (1967), aka Davis, Tolkien, Gordon.


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