Spring 2020 - ENGL 830 G100

Studies in Medieval Literature (4)

Class Number: 5487

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    AQ 6093, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Matthew Hussey
    Office: AQ 6140
    Office Hours: T 11:15-12:15 W 3:00-4:00



Examines selected medieval works in a variety of genres from Britain and Europe, organized by critical issues or theoretical approaches. May include works in a variety of media and study texts in the original language or in translation.


Authority and Authorship: Medieval Women’s Writing in Britain

The Middle Ages are usually understood as a kind of hyper (and toxically) masculine culture, with its literary histories dominated by patriarchal and antifeminist texts, be they Christian saints’ lives and prayers or secular heroic epics and popular romances. Beowulf, Arthurian romance, Chaucer and the rest define and confine women in their narratives, while our literary histories of the same tend to occlude or marginalize women’s writing. In this course, we will focus on primary texts: prose and poetry written by women or written for women readers and we will especially consider the ways these texts unsettle, challenge and redefine post-medieval and hackneyed ideas of authenticity, authority, and authorship, and where these concepts intersect with gender, desire, identity, and the body.  

After an introduction to medieval studies, we will begin with the heart-rending elegiac letters in Latin by Anglo-Saxon nuns of the 700s and work through a rich and diverse set of texts: visions of hell, lyrics of intense desire, short stories of love and magic, mystical revelations of divine love, erotic poems, and spiritual autobiography. The seminar will provide historical and cultural contexts for these women authors (or the men who wrote for women readers), and explore the ways that literary texts participated in formations of personal, political, gender and artistic identity. Furthermore, the course will ground many of our readings in the culture of books and texts of the Middle Ages, looking at manuscripts, texts, and authorship as it developed across the period.


Knowledge of medieval British texts, genres, literary history, culture and history.
Critical and methodological training in book and manuscript history, theories of authorship, women's history and critical gender theory.
Research and writing skills; oral presentation; professionalization.


  • Middle English Passage Analysis and Critical Response (2 at 10% each) 20%
  • New Research Seminar Presentation 20%
  • Conference Paper 15%
  • Seminar Research Paper 35%
  • Participation 10%



Huber and Robertson, The Katherine Group MS Bodley 34 (TEAMS, 2016)
ISBN: 978-1580442480

Waters, The Lais of Marie de France (Broadview, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1554810826

Spearing and Spearing, Julian of Norwich Revelations of Divine Love (Penguin, 1990)
ISBN: 978-0140446739

Staley, The Book of Margery Kempe (Norton, 2000)
ISBN: 978-0393976397

Gramich, The Works of Gwerful Mechain (Broadview, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1554814145

Talbot, The Life of Christina Markyate (Oxford, 2008)
ISBN: 978-0192806772

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

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Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html