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Love Through the Ages

1. The Beginnings of Love: Religious Love

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About this Lecture


The course begins with a look at the earliest literature in the English language. In the early Middle Ages, expressions of love tend to be religious in nature – such as ‘Sweet Jesus, King of Bliss’ and ‘I Syng of the Mayden”. However, it is worth exploring the imagery used when describing women, even when the woman in question is the Virgin Mary – since it is imagery that we will see again. This period also saw some discussion of the nature of love, as we see in the poem: ‘What Love is Like’.


This course explores the theme of love from the earliest English literature to the present day – from authors that you have likely heard of, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron and Keats, to authors that are perhaps less well-known. This is a course that celebrates love in all it forms and between all kinds of people.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Love Through the Ages - The Beginnings of Love: Religious Love [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Love Through the Ages – The Beginnings of Love: Religious Love." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,