Undergraduate Course: Saints and Sinners: Voicing Belief, Doubt, and Dissent in Medieval English Literature (ENLI10245)
|School||School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||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.
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.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||A 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- 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.
- 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.
|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)
|Course organiser||Dr David Salter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3055
|Course secretary||Miss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167