Jenny Lee Gonyer-Donohue
Introduces literature from the Middle Ages and the Age of Shakespeare, focusing on major works that have shaped the development of literary and intellectual traditions of these periods. Offered: AWSp.
This course will survey medieval England's literary tradition and a few of its continental influences/sources from the 8th through the 14th centuries, all while keeping the following sets of questions in mind: What makes early English literature specifically "English"? Is it satisfactory to categorize literature by its location of origin alone? What are we to do with the fact that the literary tradition was constantly shifting, being heavily influenced, and sometimes supplanted altogether, by the literary traditions of non-English visitors/conquerors/missionaries? We will be reading texts that were originally composed in Latin, Old English, Old French, Italian, and Middle English (all but the Middle English in translation, of course). As we examine the cultural and political context of this transnational hodge-podge we call medieval English, we will also discuss how the texts were physically transmitted: the production and dissemination of manuscripts, literacy and readers, and the movement from an oral/aural culture to a literary one. This is a fascinating period in literary history with some very fun texts! Added bonus: the room assigned to us (as of April 12) has air conditioning. Huzzah!
English majors: this course satisfies the pre-1900 requirement.
Textbook: The Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volume 1A: The Middle Ages (4th Edition).
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General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading