Themes

Explore works of medieval literature by theme.

Cropped detail from an illustrated manuscript, depicting a kneeling figure speaking to a monk with grass, trees and sky in background

Language and voice

From the development of Old and Middle English to the innovations of William Caxton and the printing press: explore language and voice in the medieval period.

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Cropped detail from an illustrated manuscript, depicting ships at sea and figures on board

Heroes and heroines

Discover some of the earliest heroes and heroines in English literature, from Beowulf to King Arthur. What are the typical characteristics of a medieval hero, and what can this reveal about society in the Middle Ages?

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Gender and sexuality

Examine representations of gender, sex and relationships in medieval literature, from the works of women's writers to tales of courtly love to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

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Cropped detail from a manuscript, containing drawiungs of a bull and ram

Myths, monsters and the imagination

A shadowy man-eating monster, a strange green knight, and fictional accounts of journeys around the world: investigate the boundaries between the real and imaginary in medieval literature.

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Cropped detail from the Holkham Picture Bible, depicting an intricate illustration of God surrounded by birds and animals

Faith and religion

From stories of saints and demons to reflections on life and death, God and salvation: discover how medieval literature navigates matters of faith and religion.

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Cropped detail of text from a medieval manuscript, featuring a decorated initial

Form and genre

Dream visions, heroic poetry, riddles and mystery plays: approach medieval literature through the lens of form and genre.

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