Medieval English Literature in the Classroom

Course Name

Medieval English Literature in the Classroom: Beowulf, King Arthur and Chaucer




5/6 EC

Course date

semester 2 (2022-2023)

Registration open until

24/10/2022 - 08/01/2023


all seminars are online


Thijs Porck (Leiden) en Marcelle Cole (UU) en Kees Dekker (RuG)

E-mail Contact

Thijs Porck (Leiden)

Course objectives

Completing the course successfully, the student will know how to translate current research in the field of medieval English literature and medievalism, specifically with regard to the particular themes studied in the module, into a classroom setting (at either secondary school level or university level).

The student will know about the conditions of that research (methodologies, current debates, the individuals active in the field), and will be familiar with a number of sources that need to be consulted to conduct that research.

The student will gain experience in developing lesson and/or educational material that is based on academic insights into medieval literature.

The student will be able to formulate ideas about integrating medieval literature in modern teaching practice. in an ideal position to prepare and write an MA paper that contributes to current debates in the field.

Course content

Medieval English Literature in the Classroom is suitable for students with an interest in Medieval English literature and medieval studies. It enables ambitious MA students to explore in depth an area in the field of medieval English Studies that may play a vital role in their future careers, as teachers, writers, translators, or researchers. Engaging for 7 weeks with medievalists from universities across the country to discuss the research these academics produce, study the theoretical considerations that lie at its basis, and explore the instruments of this research (including the library and internet resources), students will develop insight into the field of Medieval English Studies at large, as well as the state of the art in their future professions.

This course also helps students develop their own educational material, their abilities to incorporate academic scholarship into their teaching, to reflect critically on their findings, and to develop ideas about integrating medieval literature in modern teaching practice. Each year a different text or set of texts and themes from the Anglo-Saxon period or High Middle Ages will be selected. This course can be fruitfully combined with the MasterLanguage course ‘Language variation and change from Old to Middle English.’

Despite its huge influence on modern politics, arts and culture, medieval English literature is rarely taught at secondary schools today. This course explores ways in which current research into medieval English literature can be translated to a classroom context. This year, the course will focus on the Old English epic poem Beowulf (a world classic), the popular Middle English legends about King Arthur as well as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

Prospective course outline:


Session 1: Introduction: Why teach medieval English literature? How to teach history and culture of medieval England with modern adaptations (medievalism)?

Project 1 ‘Beowulf’

Session 2. Beowulf
Session 3. Teaching project: Beowulf

Project 2 ‘Arthurian Literature’

Session 4. King Arthur
Session 5. Teaching project: King Arthur

Project 3 ‘Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales’

Session 6. Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Session 7. Teaching project: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales



Online lectures and seminars, individual research

Assignments: three teaching projects, consisting of a educational material (e.g., lesson plan, powerpoint slides, handouts, knowledge clip),  accompanied by a brief summary of relevant scholarship and a critical reflection on the student’s own material – 100%


  • 5 ECTS (= 140 hours)
  • Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
  • Preparation and work per week 7 x 8 = 56 hrs
  • 3 Lesson plans + research assignments 3 x 21 = 63 hrs
  • 6 ECTS (= 168 hours)
  • Seminars: 7 x 3 = 21 hrs
  • Preparation and work per week 7 x 8 = 56 hrs
  • 3 Lesson plans + research assignments 3 x 30,33 = 91 hrs

Students who need 6 ECTS will make slightly longer assignments. Students who want to do this 6 EC option, need to inform the course coordinator by week 1.

Background Literature and Course Materials



Further information

fridays 14:00-17:00

All seminars will be taught online



Students are highly recommended to also take the MasterLanguage course ‘Language Variation and Change from Old to Middle English’ (semester I, block 2) for 5 EC (VU/UvA: 6 EC possible)