ELL229 : The Triumph of English?

Convener(s): Dr Graham Williams and Dr Mark Faulkner


General Information

This module will appeal to literature students who enjoyed Chaucer in the first-year core lectures, ELL students who enjoyed History of English, and anyone curious to know how the English language and English literature achieved the symbolic capital they hold today. The module introduces students to the language, genres, themes and styles of Middle English writing, including texts by Chaucer. Themes studied include animals, women, love, humour, dreams and selfhood. The module’s particular focus is on re-interrogating the commonplace that the late fourteenth century saw ‘the Triumph of English’. In particular, critical emphasis will focus on the significance of Chaucer and his contemporaries in creating the illusion of a newly triumphant vernacular literature and how such an assertion fares against other writing happening in Middle English. Linguistic areas of investigation will include questions to with dialects, the emergence of prestige in London English and the implications manuscript studies have for our interpretation of English from the period. Each text will be explored from literary and linguistic perspectives, and in assessments students will have free rein to decide what approach they take to the texts.


There will be one 50 minute lecture and two 50 minute workshops each week. The lecture will be used to introduce the week’s text in its literary and linguistic context. One workshop will help students read the text in its original language; the other will offer an opportunity for discussion of its literary and linguistic interest.


• Linguistic / Literary Commentary (50%) [2000 words] • Essay (50%) [2000 words]

Contact Details

Dr Graham Williams and Dr Mark Faulkner

g.t.williams@shef.ac.uk or m.faulkner@shef.ac.uk

Information last changed: Thursday 07th of April 2016 :: 01:16:53 PM (BST)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK