Faculty Committee

Heather Blurton, Daniel Reeve

Notes and Resources

Note: This version of the Medieval Literatures Reading List was updated June 2023. Here is a link to the previous list

Students are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with key classical and late antique works relevant to the study of medieval literature, including

  • Augustine of Hippo, On Christian Doctrine and Confessions
  • Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy
  • Virgil, Aeneid
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Medieval Latin Liturgy in English Translation, (ed. Matthew Cheung Salisbury, Western Michigan University Publications, 2017)

All works in English, whether Old or Middle, must be read in the original, unless an exception is granted by permission. If you wish to read the French and/or Latin texts in the original, speak to Heather Blurton or Daniel Reeve.

Many of the shorter texts below are available in Elaine Treharne, ed. Old and Middle English, c. 890 – 1400 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004)

Two very helpful resources are:
The Cambridge History of Early English Literature, ed. Clare A. Lees (Cambridge: CUP, 2013)
The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature, ed. David Wallace (Cambridge: CUP, 1999)

Reading List

  • Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles:
    • Pay special attention to the years 755–871, 911–924, 933–946, 1065–1086, and 1131–1154.
  • Old English short poems:
    • Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Dream of the Rood, The Wife’s Lament, Exeter Book riddles (nos 9, 26, 30, 44, 45, 46, 47, 66, 77, 86).
  • The Beowulf manuscript:
      • Beowulf, Judith, Wonders of the East
  • Ælfric, Lives of Saints:
    • Lives of Eugenia, Æthelthryth, Swythun, Oswald, Edmund, and Euphrasia
  • The Song of Roland
  • Philippe de Thaon, Bestiaire
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain
  • The Life of Christina of Markyate
  • Thomas of Britain, Tristan
  • Alan of Lille, The Complaint of Nature
  • Chrétien de Troyes, Eric and Enide and Lancelot
  • Gerald of Wales, The Journey Through Wales
  • Marie de France:
    • Lais, Fables, The Life of St Audrey, Espurgatoire Seint Patriz
  • Richard of Devizes, Chronicon
  • Insular French romances: 
    • Gui de Warewic, Boeve de Haumtone
  • The Owl and the Nightingale
  • Ancrene Wisse; and from the Katherine group, Seinte Katerine and Hali Meidenhad
  • Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, The Romance of the Rose
  • Middle English romances: 
    • King Horn, Havelok the Dane, Sir Orfeo, The King of Tars, Richard Coer de Lyon
  • Short poems from London, British Library Harley MS 2253 (the “Harley Lyrics”) 
    • “Earth Upon Earth” (24b); “Annot and John” (28); “Alison” (29); “The Poet’s Repentence” (33); “A Fair Maid of Ribbesdale” (34); “Spring” (43); “A Spring Song on the Passion” (53); “While You Play in Flowers” (55); “An Autumn Song” (63); “The Five Joys of the Virgin” (67); “Maiden, Mother Mild” (69); “The Way of Christ’s Love” (92); “The Way of Women’s Love” (93) (Article numbers refer to The Complete Harley 2253, v. 2 and 3, TEAMS Middle English Texts Online)
  • The Prick of Conscience (prologue)
  • Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love
  • The Pearl-poet:
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Patience
  • John Gower, Vox Clamantis
  • Geoffrey Chaucer:
    • The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde, House of Fame
  • William Langland, Piers Plowman (B-text)
  • Thomas Hoccleve, Series
  • John Lydgate, The Siege of Thebes
  • Wycliffite writings:
    • Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards
    • The Testimony of William Thorpe
    • Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible, chapter 15
    • A Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge 
  • The Book of Margery Kempe
  • Richard Misyn’s translation of Richard Rolle’s Incendium amoris
  • James I of Scotland, The Kingis Quair
  • Robert Henryson, Testament of Cresseid
  • Thomas Malory, La Morte Darthur:
  • The Travels of Sir John Mandeville
  • Medieval dramatic writing: 
    • Mankind, the York Mystery Plays, “The Second Shepherds’ Play” from the Wakefield / Towneley Cycle, the Croxton Play of the Sacrament
  • William Caxton’s Prologues to The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, Eneydos, and The Canterbury Tales

Revised 3/24

Click here for a link to the older list (revised 6/23)