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Medieval Education

ENGL 524.401
crosslisted as: COML601, CLST
W 9-12
Smith Room, Van Pelt Library

This course will cover various important aspects of education and intellectual culture from late antiquity (c. 400 A.D.) to the later Middle Ages (c. 1400 A.D.) across Europe. We will look especially at how the arts of language (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic) were formalized and "packaged" in late antique encyclopedias, treatises, and compendia, and at how later theorists and systematizers recombined and reconfigured knowledge systems for new uses (monastic schools, cathedral schools). We will trace how the earlier and later Middle Ages differentiated between elementary and advanced reading, how children and childhood are represented in educational discourse, and how women participated in (or are figured in) intellectual discourse. Finally, we will consider how universities changed ideas of intellectual formation, and how vernacular learning in the later Middle Ages added yet another dimension to the representation of learning. Along with the standard evidence of treatises, institutional statutes, and student "guides" (from various periods), we will also look at examples of intellectual biography and reminiscences of famous teachers by their students. While the focus will be primarily on the language arts, we will have some opportunities to consider the impact of new learning in the sciences of the quadrivium.