MA Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures, 1381-1688

University of East Anglia Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Program Description

MA Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures, 1381-1688

University of East Anglia Faculty of Arts and Humanities

This MA course offers you the opportunity to study medieval and early-modern literature in its historical, intellectual, cultural and material contexts. You will be given an advanced introduction to a range of major English texts from the period and to the continental European authors who informed and shaped them. We set Chaucer, Lydgate, Henryson, Spenser and Sidney beside Petrarch, Poliziano, Erasmus, Rabelais and Montaigne. MA "Medieval and Early Modern Textual Cultures, 1381 - 1688"

At the centre of the course is an emphasis on the varieties of medieval and early-modern 'humanism', a complex movement which enabled new understandings of the classical world, of our place within history and of our relationship to language. Our teaching is founded upon the close-reading of primary texts. Large historical and intellectual issues are allowed to grow out of specific passages, without losing sight of literary texts' formal and aesthetic qualities.

The MA has a strongly interdisciplinary character, which means you will be introduced to the broad range of cutting-edge methods by which scholars are currently researching the cultures of these periods. You will be encouraged, for instance, to move freely between texts, material artifacts, and visual art and to think about the ways in which unpublished manuscript evidence can help us to understand the priorities of medieval and early-modern readers. The course not only encourages you to read widely across the boundary between 'medieval' and 'Renaissance' cultures, but also to interrogate that boundary itself, to understand its historical and conceptual origins and to reflect on the many ways it continues to shape modern scholarly understandings of both periods. And by enabling you to work closely with local archival sources, the MA will leave you with a strong understanding of the way in which global narratives, like the rise of 'humanism' or the 'early-modern', shaped the rich literary and intellectual culture of Norwich itself.

Aims of the Course

  • Equip you with necessary skills in archival research, such as bibliography and palaeography.
  • Enable you to develop your own innovative critical thinking by introducing you to the modern interdisciplinary study of the medieval and early-modern periods.
  • Give you the opportunity to read widely in English medieval and early-modern literature and to read continental works in translation.
  • To rethink the conceptual issues at stake in the division between the medieval and early-modern periods.
  • To give you a thorough understanding of the crucial cultural and literary phenomenon of 'humanism', including a grounding in the classical sources which lie behind medieval and early-modern literary texts.
  • To let you explore the vibrancy of Norwich's medieval and early-modern literary culture, and to give you the skills you need to approach the array of surviving heritage of that period.
  • To equip you with the skills you need to prepare you for doctoral research.
  • To equip you with the transferable skills in research, project management and critical thinking that you would need to pursue a career outside academia.

Norwich's Archival Resources

East Anglia was home to an extraordinarily rich literary culture in the medieval and early-modern periods. That culture has left behind it an interlocking network of archives, which provide ideal resources for graduate students undertaking research into the medieval and early-modern periods. Thousands of early-modern printed books, and some medieval manuscripts, are preserved in the Norfolk Heritage Centre. The heart of that collection is the Norwich City Library: founded in 1608, it is one of England's most important and best-preserved regional libraries. The Cathedral library is home to another important collection of printed books. And the Norfolk Record Office houses an extraordinary collection of medieval and early-modern manuscripts, which include not only documentary records of the history of East Anglia, but also poetry miscellanies, letters, maps, heraldic papers, histories, and many other kinds of document. Together these archives bear witness to Norwich's role as a vibrant, cosmopolitan, and religiously diverse, international centre of North Sea trade and culture. The MA course will give you the opportunity to explore this archival landscape and, if you wish, to develop your own original research projects based on these collections.

Medieval and Early-Modern Research at UEA

At UEA, you will have the opportunity to participate in a field-leading medieval and early-modern research community, which will encourage you to develop your own innovative research questions, approaches and projects. Important areas of faculty research include: the history of medieval and early-modern reading practices, the study and practice of literary imitation and translation, the history and development of historiography, early-modern drama and Shakespeare, literary and intellectual biography, the development of distinct East Anglian identities, conceptions of the landscape, and the cultural importance of medieval saints' lives. Several research seminars are held throughout the term, which showcase the work of UEA's own scholars and of visiting external speakers. UEA is also at the forefront of adapting medieval and early-modern texts for the stage, and in doing so unleashing their dramatic potential as well as bringing them to a wider audience. And the Sainsbury Centre, on UEA's campus itself, will illuminate the visual art of the medieval and early-modern periods for you.

Course Outline

The MA will lead you through a tightly-focussed series of modules which, taken together, give you the understanding of literary culture, critical methods and archival skills which you need to tackle your own dissertation research project. Many of the modules will be taught by more than one faculty member: this approach helps to give you the fullest possible understanding of the way our periods are being discussed and interpreted.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated August 1, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Aug. 2017
1 year
Full time
Start date Aug. 2017
United Kingdom Norwich, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Duration 1 year
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