Medieval to Renaissance English Literature




This page is not intended as an introduction to Medieval or Renaissance literature, but simply offers a briefly annotated list of useful links. More detailed information on Middle English language is located on the the Reading and Translating Middle English page. There is also a Facebook group on Epic and Medieval/Renaissance in Film for students taking The Epic Tradition and/or Medieval to Renaissance English Literature, and (of course) anyone else who fancies joining in.


General Resources

*   Jack Lynch at Rutgers, Newark, maintains excellent literary resources, including classical, medieval and renaissance links.


Audio Resources

*   Links to audio resources relating to Middle English language can now be found on the Reading and Translating Middle English page. More general and critical materials are linked below.


Chaucer and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight


*   Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse Bibliography from the University of Michigan’s Humanities Text Initiative: searchable online editions of various medieval texts, including the Canterbury Tales (Riverside Chaucer edition), Troilus and Criseyde (the Middle English text from Barry Windeatt’s dual-text edition), and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Tolkien/Gordon/Davis edition)

*   Annotated drawings of armour reproduced on the University of Michigan’s Medieval and Renaissance Collegium pages

*   There’s a Harvard Geoffrey Chaucer site. Amongst other goodies, this features an essay on the development of Middle English and a tutorial, including audio examples, on how to pronounce Middle English (warning: some of this is still debated)

*   Extensive links to critical material at Luminarium; links to articles and essays on Chaucer and SGGK

*   Melvyn Bragg, ‘Chaucer’ (BB4, In Our Time series on Listen Again [2006])


Video resources

*   Simon Armitage on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (BBC documentary [2010]).

*   The Quest for ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ (an ArtsMagic documentary written by Gerry Malir [2008]).


Arthurian Literature and the Arthurian Legend


*   Thomas Green, Arthuriana: features an essay on the historicity of Arthur, as well as links and bibliography

*   Arthuriana: The Journal of Arthurian Studies

*   Celtic Twilight: links to primary material such as online versions of Nennius’ Historia Brittonum (History of Britain), Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Brittania (History of the Kings of Britain) and Caxton’s illustrated edition of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur)

*   Rochester University’s Camelot Project: Arthurian passages from The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth and links to medieval and modern Arthurian texts online

*   A searchable edition of Malory’s Morte d’Arthur from the University of Michigan




General resources

*   Luminarium links to background material on history, politics, society and the arts of the Renaissance, and to Renaissance writers

*   Melvyn Bragg, ‘Marlowe’ (BB4, In Our Time series on Listen Again [2006])



*   Henry VIII and the English Reformation: reasonable summary and links to other history of the period, including Elizabeth I



*   Searchable Online King James Bible. A basic knowledge of the key events of Genesis (the Creation, the Flood &c), at least one gospel and the Book of Revelation is essential to understanding the literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance: religion (whether Catholic or Protestant) was an integral and vital part of everyday life and this is reflected in the literature

Scansion and Poetics


*   A basic online guide to critical analysis, Critical Reading: A Guide, by John Lye

*   A pretty comprehensive Glossary of Poetic Terms, by Robert G. Shubinski

*   L. Kip Wheeler’s Literary Terms and Definitions. (The sidebar links to other useful reference material.)

*   Mr Black’s scansion guide

*   Bill Overton explains why it matters in ‘“People have Forgotten how to Hear the Music”: The Teaching of Poetry and Prosody’ (English, 57: 219 (2008), 266–82; doi:10.1093/english/efn016. Limited access)

Petrarch and the English Sonnet


*   Leigh Husband Kimmel provides an introduction to the poet and his life in ‘Petrarch: Books and the Life of the Mind’

*   A variety of sonnets online at Sonnet Central plus a timeline of English sonneteers

*    ‘English Court Poets and Petrarchism: Wyatt, Sidney and Spenser’ by Matthew Griffiths

*   Helen Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, available to preview on Google Books

*   Dante’s sonnets (from the Rime, in Italian): free download at Dante Alighieri on the Web

*   ‘Le Sonnet’: history (in French) of the sonnet in Europe with examples of Italian, Spanish, French and English sonnets

The Faerie Queene


*   Online text of the Book 1 of The Faerie Queene at Project Gutenberg

*   Tracey Sedinger, ‘Women’s Friendship and the Refusal of Lesbian Desire in The Faerie Queene’ reproduced from Criticism, 42 (2000)

The English Epyllia


*   Shakespeare, text of Venus and Adonis (Project Gutenberg)

*   Marlowe, text of Hero and Leander (Project Gutenberg)

*   Benjamin Carlton, ‘Marlowe’s Anti-Hero: Reconsidering Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander”’’, on

*   Beatriz Soubriet Velasco, ‘Ovid and Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis: A Study of Sexual-role Reversal’, reproduced from Sederi, 7 (1996), 273-76



Geoffrey Chaucer Hath A Blog (submitted October 2006 by Jonathan Rowland, MedRen 2006-7)

Review: ‛a site that might be useful to get some people into the swing of medieval English… This is essentially a regular blog written in medieval style, complete with references to sovereigns, saints and Old English, with modern twists. Of note is the translation of Snakes on a Plane into Middle English and Chaucer’s view of video game culture’

Chaucer Web (submitted November 2006 by Ryan Service, MedRen 2006-7)

Review: ‛This “Chaucer Web” offers those who are completely new to medieval/Middle English a basic introduction and a series of 10 lessons. These take you through a step-by-step approach, boosting your confidence in approaching Chaucer et al. The website also features interlinear translations, aiding understanding of the text, whilst offering an alternative translation to your own so you feel free to challenge and compare your translation to others such as these. In addition there is an interesting overview of the Great Vowel Shift and regional dialects as imitated in Chaucer's work. … a highly useful starting point for Freshers’

Shakespeare’s Sonnets (submitted February 2007 by Sarah Morris, MedRen 2006-7)

Review: ‛A useful website with some comment on all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, also including information on Sidney and Wyatt.  Usually it includes a helpful gloss of words where the meaning could have changed or where there is a very specific meaning within the poem.’



Thanks to contributors for URL assessment and details: Sirisa Clark, Jonathan Rowland, Ryan Service, Sarah Morris


Website design, maintenance & copyright ©2002-2016 Amanda Hopkins

Page last updated: Friday January 01, 2016 14:50