Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Topics in Medieval Lit

ENGL 220.301
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

A narcoleptic narrator seeking Truth unpredictably wakes and sleeps until his search and his dream-vision intersect.  At that moment of intersection, which spans heaven and earth, the beginning of time and the apocalypse, the narrative that emerges embarks upon a biting social satire and a surreal theological treatise aimed at producing a truth to protect late fourteenth century England against its own crumbling socio-political order.  A text of passion and appeal, of surrealism and on-target irony, is considered the most fascinating--and excitingly problematic--of medieval poems.  In this course we will read the text in its entirety and supplement it with ancillary primary and secondary readings.  The format will be discussion, and each student will have the opportunity to lead a discussion at least once.  There will be a 20 page research paper due at the end of the term.  Grade will be based on participation (50%) and paper (50%).  We will, of course, read the poem in Middle English (using an annotated text).