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SEL3055 : Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Book of the Future (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Cummings
  • Lecturer: Dr Tiago Sousa Garcia
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


What does it mean to write a text in the medieval and early modern period? How do manuscripts or play texts become the books we read and the drama we perform? How does our experience of text change with the medium, and how might this change in the future? These are some of the questions we will be addressing in this module. We will explore the shifts in medium from manuscript, to print, to the digital world and its effects on modes of public and private writing. We will focus specifically on medieval and early modern prose, life writing, correspondence, drama and poetry, and the context of their production and dissemination.

By the end of the module students will:
- have developed an understanding of the relationship between literature and technology;
- be aware of technological developments in writing, copying and accessibility of texts in the medieval and early modern periods;
- have considered the relationship between the material form of texts and how that might affect their production;
- have had hands-on experience with medieval and early modern special collections material;
- have knowledge of a range of text types from the medieval and early modern period;
- have gained practical experience of digital technologies as a research tool.

Outline Of Syllabus

Authors and texts studied in this module typically include works such as: Chaucer's House of Fame, The Paston Letters, The Book of Margery Kempe, a selection of early modern poetry and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Through the study of these works we will explore how these texts are written and received in their own time and in ours. Discussions will address issues of book history, gender, and the nature of authorship. At the end of the semester, we will find out how the advent of digital technologies is used to breathe new life into these texts — and how modern technological shifts open up new avenues for readers and researchers alike.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion176:0076:00Assessment preparation total
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:00Weekly 1-hour lecture
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading170:0070:00Reading preparation for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching122:0024:00Weekly 2-hour seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:003 x 2 hour workshops on MS/print and digital skills
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity121:0012:00Weekly 1-hour student study group
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to conceptual framework of knowledge outcomes and develop and present the critical discussion surrounding the course texts.

Small group teaching seminars introduce students to and enable them to develop the skill outcomes. Small group teaching seminars also develop the skill outcomes through the discussion, close-reading, and further exploration of the issues raised in the lecture.

Study groups give students a chance to develop independent study and prepare for the seminars in terms that give them genuine ownership over the material. Independent directed reading enable students to adequately prepare lectures and seminar discussion.

There are three two-hour workshops: one of which is with Special Collections in the Philip Robinson on manuscript and early-printed book production where students get to handle the objects they have been learning about; the other two teach digital skills beneficial for the alternative assessment options.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M30Students will have a choice of assessment types such as: a short essay, a blogpost or a literature review. 1000 words +/- 10%
Written exercise2A70Students will have a choice of assessment types such as: an essay, review a digital edition or independent project. 3000 word +/-10%
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The mid-term assessment will offer students a choice between assessment types, usually a short essay, reflective blog post on the texts studied so far and the nature of writing, or a literature review of relevant critical topics. All of the mid-module assessments will be 1000 words (+/- 10%) and of comparable rigour, and allow students to consolidate knowledge of the materials studied so far.

The final assessment offers a choice between assessment types, usually a pre-set list of essay questions, the in-depth review of a scholarly digital edition or an independent student-created project. All options for the final essay will be of comparable length (3000 words, +/- 10%) and intellectual rigour. The final assessment offers them the opportunity to reflect on the module as a whole and to develop areas of personal interest through guided independent research focused on the module materials.

The different options of assessment type for both assessments give students flexibility in how they engage with the course materials and critical sources. The nature of the options offered also relates to the critical framework of the module. The range of choice is appropriate for honours level students in their final year.

Reading Lists