Early English Literature and Culture Forum

Early English Literature and Culture Forum

Early English Literature and Culture

The English department at Indiana University has a long tradition of strength in early English literature and culture. It offers students with interests in the period from 700 - 1800 a rich array of courses covering a wide spectrum of historical, cultural, and theoretical perspectives on early English literature.

Our faculty model both traditional and contemporary approaches to early literature. On the one hand, the department has special strengths in archival studies and codicology and philology and linguistics, with regular course offerings in Old English language and literature and History of the English Language.

In addition, most of the faculty bring contemporary theory to bear on their readings of early literature, with postcolonial theory, psychoanalytic theory, ecocriticism, gender studies, poetics, rhetoric, and visual and material culture being special strengths of the program. With a diverse faculty working on early literature, the department provides an array of courses and approaches for both undergraduate and graduate students.

As part of our commitment to intellectual exchange, faculty and students working on Early English also regularly host conferences and speakers in early English writings and culture. Most recently, we hosted a symposium on “Re-reading the Medieval Miscellany.” Other recent symposia include: “From Page to Stage,” a workshop on early drama and performance that was paired with a performance of “The Second Shepherds’ Play”; “Forms of Catastrophe,” a two-day discussion drawing together ecocritical and formalist approaches to medieval writing; and a symposium on medieval and early modern curiosity. Every spring, English department students and faculty participate in the Medieval Studies Program's annual symposium and/or the annual “Renaissance Studies Now” roundtable.

Students benefit from many reading groups, including an Old English reading group, Middle English “Song School” (which focuses on pronunciation and paleography), and the “Scriptorium,” a monthly workshop focused on cultivating and responding to writing about early literature and culture. Other reading groups attended by our graduate students, including ”the Þing” (Old Norse) and an Old Occitan group, are hosted by adjacent departments. Many students also make use of the manuscripts and rare books available through the University’ Lilly Library, and others participate in the Book Lab.

Graduate students working on early literatures and cultures also organize medieval movie nights, and are in the process of developing a podcast series on “The Medieval Midwest” that explores the weird and wonderful medievalizing sites, objects, and activities that can be found in Indiana and beyond.

As part of its investment in the early periods, the department of English offers various funding opportunities for graduate students, including the E. Talbot Donaldson fellowship (for a student of Old English, Middle English, or Renaissance literature) and the Battenhouse fellowship (for a student of Renaissance literature and culture).

Affiliated with the interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Institute and Renaissance Studies program, courses in early English Literature and culture are often cross-listed with other departments and programs.