What we do in Medieval English Studies

  • English Medieval Studies at Göttingen is an interdisciplinary subject, combining cultural studies with literary criticism, history, linguistics, paleography and codicology. Our approach treats the medieval text as a phenomenon which deserves to be studied, criticised and edited from its originality with a universal transcultural empathy adequate to the twenty-first century.
  • The course offers a wide range of opportunities for students, covering the literary and linguistic developments of specifically the period of c.650-1550. Students acquire the language skills necessary to deal with medieval English texts of a variety of genres within their particular linguistic, historical and material contexts. The epic poem Beowulf, the homilies and saints’ lives of Ælfric of Eynsham or riddles and prognostics are exemplary for the literature of the Anglo-Saxons, while Geoffrey Chaucer’sCanterbury Tales, the monumental allegory of Piers Plowman, the Gawain-Poet’s beautiful compositions, the intriguing Harley Lyrics or the Mystery and Morality Plays demonstrate the diversity of later medieval English literature. Adequate study of these texts requires an understanding of medieval notions of textuality, authorship, performance and reception, thus opening new horizons in the areas of editing, rewriting or recycling medieval literature in modern media.
  • With the literature as point of departure English Medieval Studies at Göttingen also explores the evolution of English through the centuries. The English language underwent tremendous changes, and remains in rapid change, which was and is perpetuated by a multitude of historical, social and cultural phenomena. Students are invited to study especially the medieval side of these changes against the backdrop of their particular historical contexts, including a range of internal and external factors.
  • Special attention of the course is paid to the alterity of medieval manuscript culture. This is includes the introduction of students to medieval ways of handwriting accompanied by regular field trips to international manuscript libraries. Students thus not only have the opportunity of a personal encounter with the medieval book, but also get to explore prospective areas of employment such as archive studies, book restoration and preservation, curatorial work, project marketing and publishing. Relevant skills of problem-solving, team-playing and handling of cultural ambiguity prepare students for future careers in education, media or public relations.

  • Are you interested? Then come and visit us! If you have any question, please contact us . We are happy to welcome you as a fellow medievalist.