Romance (Q3272)

15 credits, Level 5

Spring teaching

The origins of this rich and complicated genre lie in the Middle Ages, when romance was the most popular form of secular literature and the particular narrative form in which women characters developed agency and subjectivity. The influence of medieval romance on later English literature, from The Faerie Queene to Bridget Jones's Diary, is profound, and romance can be read as a rival form to the novel (a distinction the module will explore), making it one of the most important genres to English literary history. Despite this, romance is a peculiarly discredited genre - scholars of medieval literature, for example, have dubbed romance 'pulp fiction', despite the existence of many sophisticated romances.

This scholarly verdict (though robustly challenged) has a long history, one in which the discrediting of romance in later periods is bound up with its association with women readers, and, indeed, with women writers. 'I suppose you are for love and a cottage: this comes of reading romances; - women have no business ever to read - or to write either', quips one father to his daughter in an eighteenth-century romance written by one now little-known author, Mary Robinson. This module introduces you to the history of romance, with a particular focus on medieval literature, to trace its importance not only to English literary history, but also to a history of women as readers and writers, and the ways in which male writers thought about and adapted a genre that was assumed to be feminine.


100%: Seminar


100%: Coursework (Essay, Portfolio)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 22 hours of contact time and about 128 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: