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Medieval Education

ENGL 524.401
instructor(s):
R 5-8:00

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/early medieval encyclopedias (e.g., Martianus Capella's "Marriage of Mercury and Philology," Cassiodorus' "Institutes of Divine and Secular Learning," Boethius and Augustine on rhetoric, Donatus and Priscian on grammar, Boethius on dialectic, Isidore of Seville on all the sciences), and at how later theorists and systematizers recombined and reconfigured knowledge systems for new uses (especially monastic education, including notably Hugh of St. Victor's "Didascalicon"). We will also look at how the earlier and later Middle Ages differentiated between "primary" and "advanced" education, how children and childhood are represented in educational discourse, how women participate in (or are figured in) intellectual discourse (Eloise, Hildegard of Bingen, Christine de Pizan), 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. Among the later medieval texts to be covered will be Abelard's "Historia Calamitatum," John of Salisbury's "Metalogicon," selections from Aquinas and other university masters, Jean de Meun's "Roman de la Rose," Christine de Pizan's "Chemin de Long Estude," Gower's "Confessio Amantis" (book 7), and possibly selections from Dante's "Convivio." Students from all disciplines across the humanities are welcome. Classicists are encouraged to enroll, as well as, of course, medievalists and early modernists. Readings will all be available in English translation, but many of the readings can be done in the original languages (Latin, Old French or Middle French, Italian) as students wish (on an individual or collective basis). Class discussions, however, will always have reference to available translations. One seminar paper (15+ pages) will be required, along with (probably) one oral report.