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ENGLISH 3C06A Medieval Lit Englnd:1200-1500

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Multiterm

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Cathy Grisé


Office: Chester New Hall 325

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23510

Office Hours: Office hours, CNH/325: Tuesday 1-2 pm, Thursday 1:30-2:30 pm, or by appointment

Course Objectives:


This course studies a vibrant period of early literature where stories of knights, romance, and adventure stood side by side with tales of virgin martyrs who died for their beliefs and accounts of mystical revelations given by God. Political structures, religious beliefs and social customs differed greatly from our new millennium age, but we will find intriguing connections between our time and that of our study. In the first term we will cover several themes by looking at some shorter texts and longer texts. The course also includes a translation project to ease your reading of Middle English literature in the original. Finally, this course will take place in one of the new Active Learning Classrooms in the Wilson Building; therefore, much of the course instruction will make use of active learning strategies and will require students to keep up with the materials and attend class regularly in order to understand course materials.


By the end of the course students will:

  • read analytically, think critically, and express themselves effectively in both speech and writing

  • develop a literary critical understanding of Middle English literature

  • develop the necessary literary historic background context for the period to enhance their understanding of the literature being studied

  • develop skills in the reading and translation of Middle English language and literature

  • work independently and in groups both in class and in assignments

  • have worked in an Active Learning Classroom and learned how to use this classroom style

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


  1. Introduction to Middle English Language and Literature  (online readings, links available on Avenue)
  2. Short Middle English texts (online readings, links available on Avenue and class wiki)
  3. Floris and Blancheflour, (out-of-copyright edition, available on Avenue and class wiki)
  4. James Winny, ed., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Facing Page Translation (Broadview, 1992)
  5. Saga of the Family of Laxardal (Penguin, 2008)
  6. Denise Baker, ed. The Showings of Julian of Norwich (Norton Critical Editions, 2004).

Method of Assessment:


  • Active Learning Classroom – Participation and Attendance. This course is student-centred and collaborative. Participation and attendance is an essential part of the course (it includes weekly contributions to in-class discussions and assignments, as well as taking attendance and posting lecture summaries once per term):20%

  • Middle English Translation Project, 2 parts (Nov. 14, and Jan. 13):10%

  • Research Assignment, proposal due Nov. 29, assignment due week of February 2: 15%

  • Final Essay (due March 16): 20%

  • Midterm Test (November 24): 10%

  • Final Exam (April Exam period): 25%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignment topics and information will be available in class and on Avenue to Learn. Late assignments will lose 2% per day, and will not be accepted seven days after the deadline has passed, except under unusual circumstances where proper documentation and prior notification has been provided to your instructor. Always keep a copy of any assignment handed in for credit. Please inform your instructor if hand in a late assignment – instructors are not notified by Avenue when late assignments are submitted.

This course will use Turnitin for written assignments; students who opt out should send an email to their instructor to indicate this action and supply an electronic copy to the instructor that will be checked manually and not submitted to Turnitin.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Sept. 6-9: Introduction


Sept. 12-16: Short readings: Middle English Lyrics, Catherine of Siena excerpts (available on Avenue)

Sept. 19-23: Short readings: Middle English Lyrics continued, Robin Hood and the Monk (available on Avenue)

Sept. 26-30: Short readings:  Robin Hood and the Monk continued  (available on Avenue)


Oct. 3-7, 17-21, 24-28, 31- Nov. 4: Saga of the Laxardal (course textbook)


Nov. 7-11, 14-18, 21-24, 28-Dec. 2: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (course textbook)

Dec. 5-7:  Term review



Jan. 4-6, 9-13: Short readings: Mandeville's Travels excerpts (available on Avenue)

Jan. 16-20, 23-27, 30-Feb. 3,: Floris and Blancheflour - Middle English Project presentations and class discussions


Feb. 6-10, 13-17: Psalter of Our Lady (available on Avenue)

Reading Week Feb. 20-24

Feb. 27-Mar. 3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24, 27-31: Julian of Norwich's A Revelation of Love (course textbook)

Apr. 3-6: Conclusions and Review

Other Course Information:

This course is booked into the Active Learning Classrooms in the new Wilson Building. It is different from a regular lecture hall or classroom: the teaching methods and learning activities will differ from what you might find in a traditional lecture class. Please be prepared for a more collaborative learning environment with enhanced technologies in the classroom and a student-centred approach to the teaching.