Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures 1381 - 1688 (MA)
This MA course offers you the opportunity to study medieval and early-modern literature in its historical, intellectual, cultural and material contexts. You will be given an advanced introduction to a range of major English texts from the period and to the continental European authors who informed and shaped them. We set Chaucer, Lydgate, Henryson, Spenser and Sidney beside Petrarch, Poliziano, Erasmus, Rabelais and Montaigne.
At the centre of the course is an emphasis on the varieties of medieval and early-modern 'humanism', a complex movement which enabled new understandings of the classical world, of our place within history and of our relationship to language. Our teaching is founded upon the close-reading of primary texts. Large historical and intellectual issues are allowed to grow out of specific passages, without losing sight of literary texts' formal and aesthetic qualities.
The MA has a strongly interdisciplinary character, which means you will be introduced to the broad range of cutting-edge methods by which scholars are currently researching the cultures of these periods. You will be encouraged, for instance, to move freely between texts, material artifacts, and visual art and to think about the ways in which unpublished manuscript evidence can help us to understand the priorities of medieval and early-modern readers. The course not only encourages you to read widely across the boundary between 'medieval' and 'Renaissance' cultures, but also to interrogate that boundary itself, to understand its historical and conceptual origins and to reflect on the many ways it continues to shape modern scholarly understandings of both periods. And by enabling you to work closely with local archival sources, the MA will leave you with a strong understanding of the way in which global narratives, like the rise of 'humanism' or the 'early-modern', shaped the rich literary and intellectual culture of Norwich itself.