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The Epic Course: A Pre-Modern Genre and its digital disclosure


Admission requirements

Students from the MA Literary Studies or Media Studies are welcome. Students from other programs are welcome to apply.


The epic genre is wide-ranging; it arguably encompasses not only the heroic tales of figures such as Charlemagne and King Arthur, but also modern sagas such as Star Wars. This course is focused on exploring the pre-modern roots of this important genre. In the medieval and Early Modern periods, epic writing moved across borders and media, and had a large impact visual culture. In order to fully explore these aspects of the genre, this course will take a transregional, transmedial, and multilingual approach.

Students will explore some of the most foundational epic texts in Latin, French, English, German, Dutch and Italian. In so doing, students will gain insight into the diachronic, transcultural and transmedial evolution of the epic genre. Each student will develop a short digital edition of an epic text, which will be shared with the broader scholarly community.

The Medieval epic had an exceptional transnational appeal. In the wake of a ‘new’ courtly noble culture that arose in France, texts celebrating feats of chivalry soon became the hallmark of worldly literature across various vernaculars in Europe. Centred mostly around the historical core of Charlemagne and his peers or the legendary king Arthur, epic texts appealed both to a noble and an urban audience, and were immensely popular in the late middle ages. This popularity is also reflected in visual and material culture. In later centuries, the genre continued to thrive, either in manuscript or in print, and some of the medieval stories continue to influence the popular imagination to this day.

This multilingual, comparative course aims to raise awareness among students of the essentially transnational, multilingual, and transmedial nature of pre-modern European literature through this exploration of the epic genre. Students will be introduced to various aspects of the genre and how these differ (or turn out to be similar) across various vernaculars, media, and time periods, and the interplay between epic literature and visual culture. Students will use the knowledge they gain through this exploration to work on a scholarly edition of (part of) an epic text in the language of their choice and, in so doing, develop key 21st century skills such as the creation of publications and writing for digital environments.

Course objectives

  • Thorough knowledge and insight into the studied literary texts, as well as their historical, medial, and cultural context.

  • Possess and apply knowledge and insight into the studied theories on editing historical texts.

  • The ability to edit historical texts in digital media while applying knowledge of theories on digital scholarly editing.

  • The ability to do independent research in this field, making use of literary theory and secondary literature.

  • Ability to present one’s findings in an oral presentation and written assignments.

  • Ability to share analytical and theoretical arguments during class discussion.

  • Ability to receive and provide feedback on one’s work and accordingly improve one’s work.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Participation

  • Oral Presentation

  • Written assignments


  • Participaction 20%

  • Oral Presentation 10%

  • Written assignments 70%

  • The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the student will have to consult with the instructor

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Brightspace will be used.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.

Not applicable.

Registration Contractonderwijs.

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal