You need no previous experience of medieval literature to do well in this course - just bring your curiosity and enthusiasm!
We will be reading a wide variety of medieval prose and poetry from the later Middle Ages: tales from Chaucer, Arthurian romances, female saints' lives, travel narratives both real and imagined, political treatises, devotional poetry, plays, and chronicles. The goal of the course is to expose you to the wonderful diversity of 13th to 15th-century literature; thanks to Middle English Boot Camp, you will all become masters of Middle English as well. As we read, we will be asking questions about reading ,writing, and authorship relevant to literature of all periods. How do written technologies, such as manuscripts, shape the way we imagine the world, our past, and ourselves? What might it mean to write in a culture with multiple literary languages (French, Latin, and English), each of which comes with its own social "baggage"? How can a writer claim to have a public voice, if it takes several days to carry a message from the center to the periphery? When can an author be said to innovate in a culture that deeply values tradition and has staked everything on a sacred past?
Assignments will include a midterm exam, a final paper, and several short exercises, including a manuscript exercise in Van Pelt's Rare Books and Manuscript Library.