ENG 250 - Medieval Literature
Explores medieval literary culture of Western Europe by means of literary theoretical and classical texts. For undergraduate English majors, this course satisfies the Period (D-1)requirement. Themes vary each year, and the seminar can be taken more than once for credit, as long as each time a different theme is chosen.
SPRING 2020 - Medieval Women’s Voices
This course examines a range of medieval texts featuring women writers, narrators, and protagonists, ranging in date from the eighth to the fifteenth centuries. Over the course of this semester we will read romances, fables, love poetry, medical texts, mystical and visionary literature, theology, autobiography, utopian literature, political theory, and correspondence between nuns, aristocratic women, and aristocratic nuns! Through these readings we will confront a variety of questions: Are there recurring ways in which women’s voices and modes of expression are portrayed? Do female-authored texts share any essential characteristics? Can we locate a female literary ethos in particular genres, or are we encountering a fortuitous selection of “typical” medieval literature? Much of our time will be spent on how women viewed themselves, their bodies, and their place in the world. Medieval women were often constrained by a complicated network of social, economic, and political forces, which intersected with activities that we think of as historical (e.g., the nature of women’s work), literary (e.g., the function and style of women’s poetry), and religious (the tradition of female mysticism). Texts may include works by Hildegard of Bingen, Heloïse, Marie de France, Cristina Mirabilis, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, the Pastons, Christine de Pizan, and Joan of Arc, along with male authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower.
FALL 2019 - The Arthurian Tradition
Centuries of combined myth, legend, and history resulted in the most popular and enduring stories in medieval literature. Arthur and Guinevere, the sorcerer Merlin, the lustful Uther Pendragon, Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot, Sir Perceval, and the Knights of the Round Table have outlived most popular literary characters from the Middle Ages, and continue to fascinate readers and audiences. This class will examine the tales’ Celtic and British roots, the golden age of French romance, take a detour to medieval Iceland, and examine the Arthurian tradition’s transformative influence on mainstream English literature. All texts but those in Middle English will be read in modern English translation; no previous Middle English knowledge is required.
Anticipated Terms Offered: Periodically