Love, Death, and Dragons: Medievalism and Fantasy ENGLANG5136

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course aims to explore the way in which medieval literature has had a direct and indirect impact on the conceptualisation of fantasy worlds, and the tropes employed in fantastical narratives. It draws on medieval texts, both in their original language and in translation, and modern fantasy fiction which embodies or subverts medievalist elements. Themes covered in this course include magic and the supernatural; dragons; chivalry and the court; gender roles; Arthurian literature; religion; romance; and misuse of the medieval past.


10 x 2hr seminars over ten weeks as scheduled on MyCampus (on-campus)

1 x 1hr lecture (online anytime)

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level


Final essay (75%; 3,500 words)

Set exercise (25%; 1,500 words)

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Explore prominent medievalist themes, imagery, and tropes in modern fantasy.

■ Establish connections between medievalism in fantastical media and the medieval literature on which it draws.

■ Evaluate how prominent 20th- and 21st-century genre writers have shaped speculative fiction's use of medievalist elements.

■ Enable students to critically engage with current debates around the use and abuse of the medieval past.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Contextualise and analyse the representation, reception and remediation of the medieval period in (post)modern and contemporary texts

■ Critically evaluate how and why modern fantasy works use medievalist ideas and imagery 

■ Trace the influences of specific medieval and faux-medieval texts in modern fiction

■ Conduct advanced critical work assessing the place of medievalist literature in the historical development of the fantasy tradition

■ Exercise sophisticated analytical skills through detailed close reading

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.