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.

Old English

Monsters and heroes in Beowulf

Article by:
Victoria Symons

Victoria Symons puzzles out the meaning of monsters in Beowulf, comparing the hero with Grendel, Grendel's mother and the dragon.

Themes:
Heroes and heroines, Myths, monsters and the imagination
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travel and trade

Travel, trade and exploration in the Middle Ages

Article by:
Josephine Livingstone

Medieval Europeans were fascinated by the lands that lay beyond their own continent. Josephine Livingstone looks at the real and imaginary travels of explorers and tradesman through works including The Book of John Mandeville, The Travels of Marco Polo and medieval maps.

Theme:
Myths, monsters and the imagination
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An introduction to Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: an introduction

Article by:
Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage explores Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and reflects on how he approached his own translation of the poem.

Themes:
Myths, monsters and the imagination, Heroes and heroines
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Dream visions

Dream visions

Article by:
Mary Wellesley

Used by diverse writers throughout the Middle Ages, the dream vision as a form was as popular in the late medieval period as the novel is today. From courtly comedy to social critique, via feminist polemic, Mary Wellesley explores some of the most captivating works of the medieval period.

Themes:
Form and genre, Myths, monsters and the imagination, Faith and religion
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Old English heroic poetry

Old English heroic poetry

Article by:
Michael Bintley

Old English heroic poetry celebrates ancient and contemporary warriors, but it also celebrates acts of self-sacrifice and the stories of brave women, and combines pagan and Christian values. Mike Bintley introduces some of the key texts of the genre, including Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon, The Dream of the Rood and Judith.

Themes:
Myths, monsters and the imagination, Heroes and heroines, Form and genre, Faith and religion
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Further themes

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Form and genre

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