The OE and ME curricula are arranged in three stages. In Old English, the introductory courses focus on achieving competency in the rudiments of the language, and survey the corpus of prose and poetry, using minor poetic pieces and excerpts from larger and more profound works: excerpts from saints lives, the Old English Old Testament in prose and poetry, Laws, elegies, heroic poems, riddles, etc. The intermediate courses focus on continuation of language study through translation– of Beowulf, Biblical Epics, OE translations of Boethius, Augustine, Gregory the Great. The advanced courses, the seminars, vary in their emphasis and are based on the makeup and the potential of the students involved. When feasible to do so depending on the linguistic potential of students, introductory courses in Old Norse are offered. It is desirable that students have some knowledge of Old Norse, since from the late 8th century to 1052, England in many respects was an Anglo-Danish state. Its cultural, legislative, and literary traditions show high influence of Scandinavian traditions.
For the Middle English period, the focus is on the teaching of Middle English dialects to build the language skills necessary for the graduate Chaucer courses and the period survey taught primarily in Middle English, featuring beast fables, romances, sermons, satire, drama, and mystical writing. To put Middle English literature further into the context of continental developments, thematic courses, such as Uppity Medieval Women, are offered. Seminars vary in their emphasis but have focused on a single-author, a major work, or thematic courses.
The assessment of student work is based on the students’ competency in translating excerpts from materials they have studied, noting Old and Middle English dialectal peculiarities in syntax, vocabulary, grammar, prosody and rhetorical devices, and generally comparing these with the development of English in the later literary periods. Students likewise develop skills in literary interpretation through close textual analysis and by the placement of texts in a political and social context.
For a Ph.D. in British and Irish Literary Studies, a student must complete 24 hours of course work in primary and secondary areas of focus, as well as 9 hours of requirements, 9 hours of electives, and competency in two foreign languages. The student is required to discuss his or her course of study with the Medieval Studies Director.
Of the required 54 hours for a Ph.D. in British/Irish Literary Studies:
General Requirements: 9 hours
English 500 Introduction to the Professional Study of English (3 hrs) (Must be taken in the first semester of graduate study.)
English 592 Teaching Literature (3 hrs)
English 511 Theory (3 hrs)
Primary and Secondary Areas of Concentration: 24 hours
5 British and Irish Literary Studies courses in Primary Area of Focus:
English 547-551, 581 (15 hrs)
3 British and Irish Literary Studies courses in Secondary Area of Focus (9 hrs)
Seminars: 12 (English 650, 680)
2 in British and Irish Literary Studies Primary Area of Focus (8 hrs)
1 in British and Irish Literary Studies Secondary Area of Focus (4 hrs)
Electives: 9 hours
May be taken in primary, secondary, or tertiary area of focus, divided equally or unequally in British and Irish Literary Studies courses, or may be taken in ALS, PW, Linguistics, or whatever the tertiary area of focus the student might choose in consultation with his/her advisor.
Languages: Two languages are required. Latin to the 300 level plus an additional research language, e.g. German or French. The choice of language should be discussed with the directory of Medieval Studies graduate programs in English.