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SEL3442 : War Writing: Heroic and Hostile Discourses in Medieval Literature

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Caoimhe Whelan
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 48 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


War Writing asks students to think about who medieval literature belongs to today. It examines ideas of patriotism, national identity, and the intersection of religion and race in narratives of 'us' and 'them'. It therefore revisits dialogues of warfare but, moreover, storytelling and the power of the narrative to manipulate readers and to create biases that still have influence today. The module gives students the opportunity to develop detailed knowledge of Medieval Literature and to broaden their understanding of the wider themes and contexts, the conceptual and contextual approaches, and the critical methods germane to the study of the literature of this period.

Outline Of Syllabus

The emergence of writers such as Chaucer, later dubbed the Father of English Poetry, the development of new genres such as the autobiography, and the self-conscious reworkings of older modes such as the Arthurian chivalric romance testify to the energy and innovation as well as the enduring significance of the literary culture of the long fifteenth century.

The module will explore themes and debates of war and storytelling, and also how writers responded creatively to new and old influences, how they explored authorship and their reading audience, and persistent themes such as gender, chivalry, patriotism, national identity, poverty, and protest.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching92:0018:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1171:00171:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to the module topics. Small group teaching seminars introduce students to knowledge outcomes and provide support for the guided reading of Medieval Literatures. Small group teaching seminars also develop this knowledge and enable the practice of skills, namely close textual analysis, critical thinking, literacy, oral, written, and interpersonal communication, and the synthesis and presentation of material. Drop-in surgeries offer students guidance and support for assessment completion (mid-module and end-of-module). Directed research and reading time, as well as independent study allows students to prepare for the seminars and assessments in terms that give them genuine ownership over the material.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal1M15c. 600 words or equivalent.
Essay1A85c. 3400 words or equivalent.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The combination of a mid-module research proposal (broadly construed, e.g. a summary of contextual reading, an annotated bibliography, a short close reading exercise) and final essay gives students ownership over the material, allowing them to explore the module's themes and their own independent interests guided by the module teaching. Ensuring good coverage of the texts on the module, the assessment will focus students upon detailed aspects of the material in terms that connect their ideas with the module’s broader thematic content.

Reading Lists