Lecture: Angels and Demons in medieval imagination

Dozenten-innen: Dutton Elisabeth
Kursus: Master
Art der Unterrichtseinheit: Vorlesung
Sprache-n: Englisch
Semester: SP-2022

In medieval Europe, morality was discussed in theological terms as a conflict between good and bad, and these forces were externalized and often personified in the figures of angels and devils.  In this course, we will examine these personifications, beginning with a consideration of the fall of Lucifer, when the brightest of God’s angels fell and became the devil, and moving through examples of the operation of heavenly and hellish beings in medieval scriptural retellings, saints’ lives, and poems.

22.02  Angels and Demons: the Bible and the back story

01.03   Old English accounts of the fall: Genesis B

08.03  The Fall of the Angels in medieval drama

15.03  Angel of the Annunciation, Angel of the Crucifixion: The Dream of the Rood

22.03  Mary and the Angels: The N Town Mary Play

29.03  Devils and Churchmen: The Friar’s Tale

05.04  Guardian Angels: The Second Nun’s Tale

12.04  The Harrowing of Hell

19.04   EASTER VAC

26.04  The World, the Flesh and the Devil: tempting St John of Beverley

03.05  Protestant Angels, Protestant Demons: Milton’s Paradise Lost

10.05  20th Century Angels on Film: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Preacher’s Wife

17.05  Conclusions

31.05  EXAM


  • Knowledge of basic grammar of Old and Middle English language
  • Training in reading Middle English
  • Basic understanding of medieval theological language
  • Understanding of the changing role of angelic and demonic figures in discussing human experience in Old and Middle English literature
  • Appreciation of importance of medieval language of the supernatural in early modern and modern literature