The Villager’s Tale

Ref: C2227522

Is it possible to see the world through the eyes of a 14th-century English villager? This course proposes a method by which his or her experience can be recreated, focusing initially on the material circumstances of village life and seeking ways of identifying modern assumptions that should be disregarded. We consider the villager's immediate environment and family, the wider social relations that coloured his or her world-view, and how the stability of the community was maintained. The presence of the church did much to extend the contemporary mentality that was broadened further for some by contact with the wider world. The mystery of illness and death was managed by a combination of self-help, acceptance and an openness to divine intervention in human affairs, while opportunities for leisure offered escape and relief from day-to-day difficulties. On top of this, villagers’ experience was in a state of continual flux, just as ours is, and change can be very disorientating.

Additional information about this course

No course on 28/10 /2020

Course aim

This course will create the basis for an evocation of village life in England in the fourteenth century, using historical and literary sources. Students will be asked to build an imagined villager's identity to see the world through his or her eyes.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • You are expected to have an interest in medieval England, its history and literature, and/or an openness to new learning experiences in this area.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe the material environment of a 14th-century English villager.
  • Talk about your imagined villager's family and his or her wider social relations.
  • Discuss aspects of your villager's belief-system, for example in connection with religious and superstitious ideas and practices.
  • Refer to ideas recorded by Robert Mannyng that give insight into 14th-century English village life.
  • Tell others in the group about the world through the eyes of your imagined villager.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You will be asked to carry out some background reading between sessions of the course and the tutor will encourage you to research aspects of 14th-century rural life identified by you as important.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will be able to keep a record of your progress and achievement using photos, audio, text or documents uploaded into the WEA’s digital learning platform, WEA Canvas.
  • You will be able to keep a digital portfolio of your work on WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas.
  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions
  • The tutor will respond to your comments and questions arising from the course, as prompted largely by you.

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:
  • A selection of materials will be provided but you are welcome to contribute relevant additional materials for your own or others' benefit. - You should have a pen or pencil and a notebook to hand during the sessions to jot down ideas that seem important in helping you achieve your main objective.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas:
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library is recommended.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • The course could be seen as preparation for undergraduate studies in medieval history or literature.

Download full course information sheet

The Villager’s Tale

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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