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.

Medieval romance has a profound influence on later literature, and, as we’ll explore on the module, on the novel, making it one of the most important genres to English literary history.

Despite this, romance is a peculiarly discredited genre – a bit of an embarrassment to write, and to be seen reading. We’ll ask why 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 us to the history of romance, to feminist scholarship on it, as well as 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.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: