Medieval Dreams and Fantasies

Level 6 (15 credits)

Dreams and visions were of absorbing interest to medieval readers, offering opportunities for the imaginative exploration of many different topics. These forms allowed space for speculation and debate, as well as for criticism or condemnation. The module will introduce you to a selection of late Middle English dreams and visions and to the traditions on which they drew; it will also encourage you to explore medieval understanding of dreams and their interpretation.

Preparing for this Module and Approximate Costs

No advance preparation is required for this module. However, we will be reading several texts in their original Middle English. (Texts written in medieval Latin and French will be provided in translation.) If you'd like to do some optional preparation work, then I would encourage you to 'brush up' on your Middle English skills, for example by re-visiting material from ESH129 (Literatures in Time), notably on Chaucer's Middle English. You might also want to 'dip into' some Middle English learning resources, such as Harvard's University's Learning Middle English webpage or books about medieval English language and literature. One language-focused book is J. A. Burrow and Thorlac Turville-Petre, eds., A Book of Middle English, 3rd edn. (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005). An earlier edition (published in 1996) is available at the QMUL Library: P281 BUR. However, please don't worry too much about this. If you are new to Middle English, then please feel encouraged to take this module! The module convenor will support you with your study of the language, and the editions we'll be using in class are well-glossed, so you will have lots of help along the way. To be clear, then, there is no requirement to have read anything in Middle English before in order to take this module.

No additional costs are anticipated for this module. 

Why take
Medieval Dreams and Fantasies

  • Read a range of dreams and dream visions written in a period that is full of imaginative and provocative literature;
  • Learn about medieval theories of dream interpretation (many of us still look for meaning in our dreams today);
  • Explore dreams as spaces for prophecies and fortune-telling, journeys to other worlds, consolation, debate, religious visions, and poetic experimentations.
Learning Context Long Seminar
Semester One
  1. Essay 1 (1000 words), 20%
  2. Essay 2 (3000 words), 80%
Mode of reassessment Standard