Old Haunts: The Ghost Story in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

Module code: EN7242

Following the Reformation, the boundary between living and dead was abruptly redrawn. With the simplification of funerary rites, and the abolition of purgatory as ‘a fonde thing’, the old medieval channels of communication were swiftly severed. Yet the dead still remained an insistent presence: they howled for vengeance on the stage, harassed householders in newsbooks, and were even studied as quasi-scientific phenomena. This module will examine the changing portrayal of apparitions from the late medieval to early modern periods. It will survey a variety of genres, ranging from folktales, romances and drama to chronicles, sermon exempla and medical discourse, to understand what stories of the restless dead can tell us about how early modern culture negotiated with its recent past.

Learning

  • 10 hours of seminars
  • 140 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Essay, 3,000 words (100%)
  • Formative research and bibliography exercise, 500 words (0%)