Later medieval literature is witness to extraordinary changes in English society. This is a time of rapid social mobility and class conflict, of profound cultural and intellectual developments, and of the rise of English as a literary language and the formation of the canon. This module explores the ways in which some of these issues and events were addressed by writers of the period and how writing in English itself became a means of shaping individual and cultural identities. Students are encouraged to consider what it meant to write in English at this period and to explore ways in which authors ¿ men and women -- reflected upon changes to contemporary social structures and to religious beliefs and practices. Analysing key texts in detail, students will be invited to consider representations of society in the literature of the period in the light of current critical theories and practices. Topics covered may include: class conflict and social division; the production of sexual, religious and ethnic identities; genre and generic innovation; autobiographical writing; issues of textual authority and vernacularity; religious debate and dissent; Arthurian literature and courtly love. Examples of texts which may be studied include the 'General Prologue' and the Franklin's Prologue and Tale from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; Langland's Piers Plowman; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Malory's Le Morte Darthur, two of the most celebrated English Arthurian narratives; The Book of Margery Kempe, the first female autobiography in English; the bawdy play of Mankind; poetry by Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, courtiers to Henry VIII; and the work of Anne Askew who was burnt at the stake for her Protestant beliefs. All texts are studied in the original Middle English language; in the case of longer texts, students will make detailed study of selected parts or extracts.