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Literature & Culture of the Middle Ages in England

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Cambridge, United Kingdom




Good academic standing with preference given to upper level students.

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

Please note: This program is not running in 2013. Please check our website next fall for information about summer 2014

This course will bring medieval English culture to life as students read great literature from the Middle Ages while visiting the places associated with it. This is an intensive course—students should expect to read a semester’s worth of material in just three weeks— which will reward participants with an intense engagement with the medieval past. Visits to historic sites and museums will bring a new perspective to the literature and culture. While some previous knowledge of medieval literature is desirable, it is not required. The course is equivalent to 008:101/162:101, Literature and Culture of the Middle Ages, to which the 3 s.h. credit will transfer although special arrangements are possible for students who have already taken a different version of that course at Iowa

Academic Program

Major readings will include Beowulf and other Old English poetry, the Life of St. Guthlac, excerpts from Bede’s Ecclesiastical History and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, and Margery Kempe’s Book. This is an intensive course. There will be 13 classroom teaching days, each involving a class session of 3 hours. Each class, then, will constitute slightly more than one week of regular semester course work. Students will be expected to read with care all the assigned readings and to participate in class discussions. Writing assignments will include two pieces of informal writing for every class, one centered on the text, the other on the museum or place explored the previous day. Students will also write one full-length paper (8-10 pages) relating literature from the course to the places visited and objects seen.

Cultural Activities

Several day trips are planned to locations of historical and literary interest.

Program Dates

Proposed dates for this course are:
Sunday, June 26, 2011 (arrival in Cambridge) to Friday, July 15,2011 (program ends -- return to U.S. or travel independently in Europe)

For More Information

John Rogers, Coordinator
The University of Iowa
Study Abroad | International Programs
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802

Phone: 319-335-0353
Fax: 319-335-0343

Cambridge University

Students from Oxford moved to Cambridge in 1209 to found a university there after bad town-gown relations in Oxford drove many students away. Cambridge University is, of course, one of the most highly-regarded educational institutions in the world. The class will be based in Fitzwilliam College at Cambridge University.


The city of Cambridge lies approximately 50 miles northeast of London. Evidence of human settlement there pre-dates the Romans. Anglo-Saxons replaced the Romans, and were in turn driven out by Vikings. After the Norman invasion of 1066, William the Conqueror built a castle in Cambridge and the community grew.


England is one country of four that comprise the United Kingdom (the others being Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). It has a rich, varied history and is, of course, the place where literature written in the English language originated.

Living Arrangements

literature from middle ages

Cambridge housing will be in fully-furnished, en-suite rooms in Fitzwilliam College. A group meal the day of arrival is planned. Three meals a day are provided when the class is in Cambridge, or two meals a day during excursion days. Limited meals are provided at weekends, when students are free to travel independently.

Travel Arrangements

Students will make their own travel arrangements with advice and coaching from Study Abroad. The group will meet at Heathrow airport in London on arrival day and take a train to Cambridge.

Local Transportation

The U.K. has extensive public transportation at the disposal of visitors. All required travel related to the academic aspects of the class are covered by the program fee.


Students must be in good academic standing with a demonstrated interest in English literature or medieval studies. Preference is given to upper-level students.


The cost of this program is estimated to be $3,800, which includes all educational and administrative costs, 3 s.h. of English department credit, housing in Cambridge, most meals, ground transportation, and museum entrance fees. Airfare, insurance, passport, some meals, and personal expenses are not included. There is a $50 non-refundable application fee. If you are applying from another institution, additional fees may be charged by that institution

How to Apply

PDFSummer 2011 application

Application Deadline



Lindisfarne Priory
University building

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343