ELL360 : Historical Pragmatics

Convener(s): Graham Williams


General Information

How are early handwritten letters similar to emails? How do they differ?
How did one go about writing a medieval Valentine?
Can Elizabethans be considered rude in comparison with present-day English usage?

These are questions to do with historical pragmatics - a field of study that considers how people went about communicating in earlier periods, and what was important to them when they did so. This module will introduce some of the basic concepts in historical pragmatics (e.g. (im)politeness, speech acts and address terms) and apply these to the study of the letter-form in English (from medieval love letters to present-day emails).


Teaching is made up of one weekly lecture and one seminar. For each seminar the group will discuss and apply terms and concepts from historical pragmatics in relation to actual English familiar letters.


Assessment consists of weekly online quizzes (via MOLE), a textual analysis, and one final essay.

Contact Details

0114 222 8460


Information last changed: Friday 09th of February 2018 :: 01:53:03 PM (GMT)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK