Faculty of Arts


Early Texts: Pilgrims to Players

Please note: this is archived course information from 2012 for ENGLISH 100.


An introduction to the pleasures of early literature through study of works by the foremost writers of the medieval to Renaissance periods, especially works by Chaucer and Shakespeare. Within the genres of verse narrative and drama we explore texts in a variety of modes offering both startlingly realistic observation and fabulous invention, in the case of Chaucer’s tales, and, in the field of drama, sensational scriptural and secular histories, tragedy and comical satire, tales of lust, tyranny and damnation. In studying these texts, we investigate relations not just between literary works but also between writers of a past age and readers from our own times. The texts for 2012 offer a focus on themes of gender, power and play, in particular, women’s power, or powerlessness. This course is valuable preparation for courses at Stage II that have a historical literary dimension, especially ENGLISH 200 Middle English: Chaucer and Romance, ENGLISH 210 Age of Shakespeare: Poetry, ENGLISH 213 Age of Shakespeare: Tragedy, ENGLISH 264 Medieval Popular Literature and ENGLISH 265 Shakespeare: Comedies and Tragicomedies.

Availability 2012

Semester 2


Coordinator(s) Dr Sophie Tomlinson
Lecturer(s) Professor Tom Bishop
Roger Nicholson


(In order of reading): Chaucer, General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales; The Miller’s Prologue and Tale (both Cambridge University Press); selected cycle plays (in course booklet); Arden of Faversham (2nd revised edition, A & C Black, 2007); Shakespeare, Richard III (Penguin) and The Merry Wives of Windsor (Folger Shakespeare Library).

Recommended Reading

Janette Dillon, The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre (Cambridge University Press)


Coursework + exam


ENGLISH 100: 15.0 points


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