English - Free topic 7: The Postcolonial Middle Ages and The Postcolonial Present: Border-Crossings and the Figure of the Migrant

Course content

The Postcolonial Middle Ages (Henry Bainton)

The literary cultures of the “English” Middle Ages are deeply imprinted by the dynamics of conquest. The Insular experience of colonization—first by the Anglo-Saxons, then by the Danes and the Normans—involved cultural negotiation, assimilation, and resistance; and the literary texts written in this period were fraught with the anxieties that conquest generates. As well as introducing students to the history of this period, this module will engage postcolonial approaches to read those deeply anxious literary texts. We will consider, among other things, how the multilingual literary culture of medieval England contested and combined identities, how it negotiated expansionist military power, and how the crusades in the Holy Land provided a new framework through which to imagine others both at “home” and abroad.


The Postcolonial Present: Border-Crossings and the Figure of the Migrant (Anne Sophie Taagaard)

Who and what is a migrant? Is the migrant (only) someone who arrives in the West? Is the migrant inevitably non-white? How is the migrant received in the host society and what kind of anxiety does the migrant stir? How does migrant literature work to complexify our conceptions of the migrant and the migrant experience? Migration is far from a modern phenomenon. It has shaped, and continues to shape, the world that we live in. In this course we will explore the figure of the migrant through literature. We will, in particular, address the differences between being a migrant in Great Britain and the United States in an attempt to move beyond the ‘black and white’ nature of migrancy discourses.

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.

The Postcolonial Middle Ages

Preliminary primary reading: Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, Gerald of Wales, History and Topogaphy of Ireland; Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Man of Law’s Tale;” John Gower, “The Tale of Constance.” Critical reading: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, ed. The Postcolonial Middle Ages.



The Postcolonial Present: Border-Crossings and the Figure of the Migrant

Preliminary reading list: Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao, Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche, In the Falling Snow by Caryl Phillips. Final reading list will be included in the course plan on Absalon.

Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 8th 2020
Student conference at the end of semester for ‘The Postcolonial Middle Ages’ (counting 50 % of the final grade)
2 essays (5-6 pages each) for ‘The Postcolonial Present: Border-Crossings and the Figure of the Migrant’
Criteria for exam assessment
Type of assessment
Criteria for exam assessment

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • English
  • 409,5