THE UNIVERSITY of EDINBURGH

DEGREE REGULATIONS & PROGRAMMES OF STUDY 2020/2021

Information in the Degree Programme Tables may still be subject to change in response to Covid-19

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Saints and Sinners: Voicing Belief, Doubt, and Dissent in Medieval English Literature (ENLI10245)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to a range of medieval literary texts that explore questions of religious faith and spirituality, and that challenge preconceived and simplistic notions of the relationship between Church, community, and culture in the period. While the medieval Church sought to impose a certain degree of dogmatic uniformity, the chosen texts suggest that it did not always function in a monolithic or rigidly coercive way. Instead, literature opened up a space in which doubts about doctrine were voiced, and assumptions about authority and hierarchy were open to question.
Course description This course introduces students to a range of medieval literary texts that explore questions of religious faith and spirituality, and that challenge preconceived and simplistic notions of the relationship between Church, community, and culture in the period. While the medieval Church sought to impose a certain degree of dogmatic uniformity, the chosen texts suggest that it did not always function in a monolithic or rigidly coercive way. Instead, literature opened up a space in which doubts about doctrine were voiced, and assumptions about authority and hierarchy were open to question.

The course primarily focuses on fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Middle English literature, and encompasses a wide range of literary forms, each of which explores different aspects of contemporary faith and spirituality. For instance, amongst the issues raised by the texts is the centrality of the Virgin Mary in medieval Catholic belief, and the significance of her perpetual virginity. In their treatment of Mary┐s sexuality, medieval texts are alive to the human ┐ even comic ┐ implications of her virginal state while still revering its theological import and emotional power. Another area of belief opened up by the texts, and one that may also seem remote to a modern readership, is the centrality of saints in medieval religion, and the reciprocal, even companionable relationship between the living and the dead that a belief in saints necessarily implies. Belief in saints enabled medieval Catholicism to provide its adherents with a source of comfort and consolation for the anxieties raised by loss, bereavement, and death. But literature also offered a forum in which writers could criticise and dissent from received ideas and sources of authority. Ecclesiastical figures found themselves subject to satirical attack in texts which sought to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of the Church, and which in some instances even questioned its claims to power and authority.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: ( English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016)) AND ( English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004))
Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Essential course texts.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesA MINIMUM of four college/university level literature courses at grade B or above (should include no more than one introductory level literature course). Related courses such as civilisation or creative writing are not considered for admissions to this course.
Applicants should also note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. In making admissions decisions preference will be given to students who achieve above the minimum requirement with the typical visiting student admitted to this course having three to four literature classes at grade A.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students who have successfully completed this course should have acquired a knowledge of a number of key Middle English texts, and an understanding of how these works engage with contemporary religious debates and ideas.
  2. By the end of the course, students should also be familiar with the ways in which both religious scepticism and religious fervour come to be expressed through literary texts, and how doubts and ideals tend to be articulated in terms of contemporary social, political and economics models.
Reading List
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson (Oxford University Press, 1988)
G. A. Lester, ed. Three Late Medieval Morality Plays: ┐Everyman┐, ┐Mankind┐ and ┐Mundus et Infans┐: A New Mermaids Anthology (Methuen, 2002)
The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. Barry Windeatt (D. S. Brewer, 2006)
Additional Information
Course URL http://www.ed.ac.uk/literatures-languages-cultures/english-literature/undergraduate/current/honours
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Special Arrangements Numbers are limited and students taking degrees not involving English or Scottish literature need the written approval of the head of English Literature.
Additional Class Delivery Information Seminar: 2 hour(s) per week for 10 week(s); plus attendance at Autonomous Learning Group for one hour each week - times to be arranged
KeywordsNot entered
Contacts
Course organiserDr David Salter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3055
Email: David.Salter@ed.ac.uk
Course secretaryMs Sheila Strathdee
Tel: (0131 6)50 3619
Email: S.Strathdee@ed.ac.uk
Navigation
Help & Information
Home
Introduction
Glossary
Search DPTs and Courses
Regulations
Regulations
Degree Programmes
Introduction
Browse DPTs
Courses
Introduction
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Prospectuses
Important Information