Middle English Bibliography Example

  • Anthology of Middle English Literature.  Open access to many authors of the Middle English period, including Chaucer, Langland, the Gawain-poet, Margery Kemp, Julian of Norwich, and others, plus a searchable bibliography and essays, which may be downloaded. http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/

  • Database of Middle English Romances – provides key information, including (where known) date and place of composition, verse form, authorship and sources, extant manuscripts and early modern prints, for each romance, as well as a full list of modern editions and plot summaries. There are direct links to all of the modern editions that are available online. The database is searchable by manuscript, by a set of fifty ‘key words’ (representing common motifs and topics found in more than one romance), by verse form, and by plot summary. http://www.middleenglishromance.org.uk/

  • Digital Index of Middle English Verse (DIMEV) – open access digital edition of the Index of Middle English Verse http://www.dimev.net/

  • Documents of Early England Data Set (DEEDS Project) http://www.utoronto.ca/deeds/

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO) – available with an LSU PAWS account
  • Although most Middle English romances were edited at an early stage, the seemingly low literary quality of many of the texts and the obscurity of the editions they appeared in led to their relative critical neglect. However, by the 1980s scholars had begun to reassess the significance of the Middle English romance tradition, culminating in the influential study Barron 1987. Work on the area has burgeoned since, and romance from medieval England is an increasingly well-served field. New Historicist trends have proved particularly fertile ground for study of English romance and have enabled more fruitful and more frequent engagement with a wide variety of texts in the romance mode. The social background, manuscript contexts, politics, and cultural impact of a range of romances have been studied extensively. Crane 1986 stresses the shared concerns of romances in the two linguistic traditions of England: Anglo-Norman and Middle English. Crane illustrates how these works were shaped by distinctive social and political factors. Political concerns are also at the forefront in Heng 2003, which explores proto-national identities articulated in English romance and in Knight 1986, which analyzes how romance ideologies relate to their social context. The rise of feminist scholarship also encouraged the study of Middle English romance, which often seems designed to appeal to female audiences and female interests. Cooper 2004 is perhaps the most comprehensive and influential account of romance in England; its introduction articulates a convincing redefinition of the genre. The book also makes a powerful argument for the continuity of romance readings across the medieval/Renaissance divide. Increased attention to romance in undergraduate courses has also prompted and been facilitated by a number of useful companion volumes, including Krueger 2000 and Saunders 2004, the latter of which ranges well beyond the medieval period. The most user-friendly reference work for romances in Middle English is MacDonald 2012.

  • Barron, W. R. J. English Medieval Romance. London and New York: Longman, 1987.

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    An influential account that traces the development of romance in England and balances attention to major texts with analysis of often neglected minor works.

  • Cooper, Helen. The English Romance in Time: Transforming Motifs from Geoffrey of Monmouth to the Death of Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199248865.001.0001E-mail Citation »

    Generally considered the major work in this field. This book is not arranged chronologically but by particular motifs. There is a valuable appendix listing romance texts that still circulated after 1500.

  • Crane, Susan. Insular Romance: Politics, Faith, and Culture in Anglo-Norman and Middle English Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

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    A concise account of a group of romances in Anglo-Norman and English that articulate the distinctive concerns of the baronial class in the period after the Norman Conquest.

  • Heng, Geraldine. Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

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    Situates the rise of romance in the context of European exposure to the East through crusading and travel. Also deals with the thorny question of medieval attitudes to ethnicity and nationality.

  • Knight, Stephen. “The Social Function of the Middle English Romance.” In Medieval Literature: Criticism, Ideology, and History. Edited by David Aers, 99–122. New York: St. Martin’s, 1986.

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    Analyzes the political and historical background to Middle English romance. Particular attention is paid to Libeaus Desconus, Emaré, Sir Amadace, and Sir Eglamour.

  • Krueger, Roberta L., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521553423E-mail Citation »

    A good handbook for undergraduate students, primarily focused on the English context, though the final third of the book also considers romance in other European traditions.

  • MacDonald, Nicola. Database of Middle English Romance. 2012.

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    Hosted by the University of York and originally launched in 2012, this online database provides summaries of each text in the extant corpus of romance material in English. Each entry is accompanied by a list of manuscripts and early prints in which the work survives along with modern editions. The keyword search is useful for motif-related research, and the database may also be searched by manuscript and form.

  • Saunders, Corinne, ed. A Companion to Romance: From Classical to Contemporary. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

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    Employs a capacious definition of “romance” across periods. Chapters 2–6 treat medieval romance, covering Anglo-Norman romance (Weiss), English metrical romance (Brewer), Arthurian romance (Barron), Chaucer’s romances (Saunders), and Malory and English prose romance (Cooper).

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