Seminar für Englische Philologie

How to get along in English Medieval Studies: an overview

Welcome to English Medieval Studies (Mediävistik) at Göttingen. We are happy to welcome you as fellow medievalists, and we are convinced that you won’t regret your choice. What we offer you is a varied and interesting curriculum which includes aspects of Literature, Cultural Studies, Linguistics and Material Culture. This allows you to develop specific areas of interests, and focus on your favourite aspects as far as possible.
To give you an easy start, here’s a guideline through your BA programme. In our view, these are the four steps to success in Medieval Studies:

1) Basismodul - B.EP.01-2 (2 SWS, 3 CPs)

To begin with, you start with module B.EP.01-2, which is best to attend during your first term here. The corresponding seminar is the E-Proseminar “Einführung in die historische Sprachwissenschaft”. This course offers you the basics in English (historical) linguistics. It deals with questions such as: How does language in general work?, and how English in particular? How has the English language become what it is today? And what about its future? We analyze the building-blocks of the English language, starting with its sounds, via the structure of words and processes of word-formation up to complete sentences and texts. Since we have promised to deal with historical aspects of the language we will explore the changes English has undergone over the last one and a half millenia, in the course of which you may realize why it was probably quite easy for you to learn English at school, why English and French share plenty vocabulary, and why a positive sense of awesome is simply, well, “awesome”. Moreover, we are revealing to you why you actually study “English”. All this will be done with the help of English literary texts from c. 700-1700, though English as a world language and its role in the media today will not be neglected.
At the end of the course you will take an ungraded (pass/fail) 90-minute written exam.

2) Aufbaumodul 1 - B.EP.204 (4 SWS, 8 CPs)

After the E-Proseminar you have the choice to stay with us or switch to Modern Linguistics without any problem. If you decide to bear with us some more, you will continue with Aufbaumodul 1 (B.EP.204). This module encompasses two courses: first, the lecture and second, the seminar “Introduction to Medieval English Literature and Culture.”
This seminar is primarily designed as a survey of medieval English literature. You are given the chance to train you critical competence in dealing with medieval literature and acquire basic translation skills in Old and Middle English. By weekly translation of short passages you will become familiar with a range of set texts that cover the period from c.700 to c.1400 (for instance, Bede’s Account of Cædmon, The Dream of the Rood, or Chaucer’s Franklin’s Tale). This course introduces you to the analysis of lexical, formal, stylistic and cultural aspects relevant to different genres of medieval English literature. Your basic working method is the close commentary, that is, you analyze text passages under the aspects just outlined and discuss your findings in class. The ultimate task is: Be creative! Develop your own questions, and let us support you in finding answers to them. Furthermore, you get a first glimpse of the materiality of medieval texts, which due to their transmission in manuscript form, can be different from texts that solely belong in modern print-culture.
In order to be admitted to the final exam you have to hand in a close commentary on or a translation of a text of your choice. You will be practicing the close commentary and the translation regularly in class so that you will be well-prepared.
In the end you will take a 2-hour written exam which is graded. The exam covers questions on the lecture, a close commentary and a translation pertaining to topics dealt with in the seminar.

3) Aufbaumodul 2 – Topics of Medieval English Studies: B.EP.301 (4 SWS, 6 CPs)

Similar to Aufbaumodul 1, you will partake in two courses to accomplish this module: first, the lecture and second, a seminar of your choice. Although the seminar topics change every term in order to give you a wide range of aspects to fit your personal interests, we are doing our best to align the seminars thematically to the lecture.
You can focus either on aspects of literature or language. It is up to you. In this module you develop your skills which you have acquired during the first two modules with the help of selected topics and texts. Critical reflection and creativity in dealing with medieval English texts are central issues.
In the end you will take a graded 90-minute written exam. This covers questions on the lecture as well as on the seminar.

4) Vertiefungsmodul – Peer-Assisted Medieval English Studies: B.EP.401 (4 SWS, 7 CPs)

This module encompasses the lecture and a tutorial. The aim of this module is to facilitate your independent academic work on a topic of your choice. You do not have to attend a seminar on a weekly basis but will meet on several occasions in groups of two or three and with your mentor to discuss and reflect on your drafts. This exchange of ideas will enable you to enter a critical dialogue about research topics, working methods and secondary literature . You can practice academic writing, and will get a hands-on experience of research processes and topics. Our goal in this seminar is to help you find your individual academic style, to develop strategies to cope with research problems and build your skills in dealing with relevant literature in order to write a thesis. In this process you are supervised by your mentor. Thus, you will be well-prepared for the upcoming BA thesis, on which you will usually work during the following term.
In order to be admitted to write your term paper you will have to hand in a preliminary 2,500-word strong essay. This essay is intended to be a draft of what you are going to write in your term paper (5000 words). You can practice your academic writing without the pressure of being graded immediately, and you can discuss the essay with your mentor and your fellow students.

We hope that you will all find our range of courses worthwhile, that you enjoy the history of English and England’s oldest literature with as much enthusiasm as we do. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the lecturers. For specific questions on the curriculum, please get in touch with Dr. Dirk Schultze. Welcome!