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

  • Inactive for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr James Cummings
  • Owning School: English Lit, Language & Linguistics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


What does it mean to write a text in the medieval and early modern period? Who was meant to read the manuscripts or printed works that survive to us? How do these texts become the books we read and the drama we perform? How does our experiences of text change with the medium, and how might this change in the future? What form will books of the future take? These are some of the questions we will be addressing in this module. We will explore the shifts in medium from handwritten, to print, to the digital world and especially 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 knowledge of a range of text types from the medieval and early modern period;
- have an understanding of differences between public and private writing in pre-modern texts.

Outline Of Syllabus

Texts studied in this module have typically included works such as: The Book of Margery Kempe, The Paston Letters, Memoirs by Lady Ann Fanshaw and Lady Anne Halkett, Johannes Trithemius’ In Praise of Scribes, Chaucer's House of Fame, and Shakespeare's Hamlet. Through the study of these works and modern critical texts on digital technology, we will explore how these texts are written and received in their own time and in ours. Discussions will address issues of book history 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 texts like these — and how these technological shifts open up new avenues for readers and researchers alike. As much as possible texts will be provided to students via an online module reader.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials82:0016:00Weekly lecture or equivalent
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Preparation of final independent project / essay
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading180:0080:00Reading preparation for lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Seminar or equivalent
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion70:303:30Participation in online discussion boards
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity70:303:30Reflective log of participation and engagement
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:008:00Weekly 1-hour student study group or equivalent
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision20:301:00Supervision meeting for final project / essay
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to conceptual frameworks 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 enables students to adequately prepare lectures and seminar discussion.

Active participation in the module’s online discussion groups will be strongly encouraged.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Reflective log1A10A reflective journal of participation and engagement (~500 words)
Written exercise1A90Students will have a choice of an essay or independent project. 3500 word +/-10%
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Portfolio1MPortfolio including project plan
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students will provide a reflective log of around 500 words on their participation and engagement in the module. This assessment will encourage students to remain engaged with the module throughout the semester and provide an incentive for active contributions to the online environment.

The portfolio is a formative work that gives a chance to provide feedback to the student on their essay or project plan. This assessment is a building block working towards the final assessment.

The final assessment offers a choice between assessment form: either an independent essay or independent project based on the previously-submitted plan. Both options will be of comparable length (3500 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.

Reading Lists