This course begins with an examination of Anglo-Saxon poetry
(Beowulf and selected shorter works), a tradition that combines powerful
heroic, religious, and elegiac strains.
From there we move to the Middle English period where, through works
which represent a variety of literary conventions and genres (lyric, allegory,
debate, mystical vision, romance, drama), we can use these works as a window to
explore the values, attitudes, beliefs, and aesthetics of an age different from
our own, but whose influences nevertheless are deeply embedded in Western
society. Representative issues for
investigation include the genesis of modern expectations for romantic love, the
development of chivalry, the shaping of misogynistic discourse in Western
culture, the influence of Christianity, and changing attitudes toward piety.
(in order of discussion)
-selected Anglo-Saxon poetry
Owl and the Nightingale
-selected Middle English lyrics
-Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe (selections)
Gawain and the Green Knight
-Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur
Class format is
primarily discussion, but lectures will provide ample foundation regarding
medieval history, culture, society, and literary conventions.
include two midterms, two formal essays, some in-class writing, final.