English 3401: What I did/did not know about medieval English culture (revised assignment)


Read J. A. Burrow, Medieval writers and their work: Middle English literature and its background 1100-1500 and write a brief essay discussing some aspect of high Medieval English life, art, or culture that intrigues you. This might involve

  • something that you already knew something about but have a deeper knowledge of after reading Burrow’s book
  • something you did not know, but found interesting
  • something you wish Burrow had covered but did not
  • something that you think Burrow is wrong about or about which another view is possible.

In writing this essay, you will almost certainly need to consult other sources in the library, on the Internet, or from our reading list. The precise choice and number of sources other than Burrow (if any) should be determined by your approach and the nature of your argument.


The goal of this project is to help you organise your thinking about the medieval period by helping you discover what you do and do not know. It will also help you learn about various research tools for the study of the period and perhaps identify areas you will like to explore more thoroughly in your blogs and final essay.


The rubric for this essay follows that used for most essays, except I will place less emphasis on argument and thesis and more on evidence of engagement and problem definition. I will also be taking into account the preliminary and slightly informal nature of the assignment.


This should be a short third year paper. Most students will probably write around 1000 words, so an argument of that length would be appropriate. You are welcome to write a longer or shorter essay than this if it seems equivalent to you.


This essay will be graded on an Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail basis. It is also eligible for Distinction and Great Distinction badges. If your essay is inappropriate, you may choose to redo it (provided you haven’t redone any other work in the year) for a 2.5% penality on your final grade.



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