Traynor F Iii Hansen
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.
Like any historical stretch, the years 400-1600 (call them the Middle Ages, the Medieval Era, the Dark Ages, or whatever else you like) are characterized by popular misconceptions. It is common sentiment that the Middle Ages were a time of violence, superstitiousness, and an overall failure to measure up to the “enlightened” potential of humankind (i.e., our glorious, 21st-century present). This course will use these ideas as a starting point to question what the Middle Ages “really” were like—keeping in mind all that the quotation marks around “really” imply—or, at least, how writers textually represented the concerns of their era. We will look at some different origins of the legends of Arthur and other British kings before turning to bloody religious poems (Judith and Andreas) and the bizarre Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. We’ll end with one of Chaucer’s raunchier Canterbury Tales and, bringing us to the cusp of the modern age, Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Note that this is an A-term class.
English majors: this course satisfies the pre-1900 requirement!
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecture, discussion, and group work.
Be prepared to rea.
Class assignments and grading
Students will be graded through in-class quizzes and writing, participation in discussion, a couple of short response papers, and one longer (5-6 pp.) final essay.