Skip to main content

Topics in Medieval Literature I

Medieval Monsters

Creature in the woods

Medieval literature is replete with monsters of all sorts, including giants, trolls, witches, werewolves, revenants and dragons. This class will examine a variety of works from various traditions which feature monstrous creatures or characters, including Beowulf, Grettir’s Saga, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and other romances and tales. Our analyses of these texts will engage with “monster theory” as delineated by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and other critics as we investigate the following questions: What constitutes monstrosity? How do monsters draw cultural boundaries? Most works will be read in translation, but some Middle English romances will be read in the original Middle English. Students will receive guidance on reading Middle English.


As this is a seminar, most classes will revolve around discussion of the texts in question.




Assessments will consist of:

  • Class participation
  • Oral presentation and Report
  • Essay
  • Exam


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290
  • Registration in an English Major or Medieval Plan

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.