Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Assault, Battery, and Medieval Literature

ENGL 266.601
instructor(s):
R 6:30-9:30

This course examines how narratives of violence are constructed and read by diverse modes of medieval English writing: poetry, prose, drama, saint’s life, statute, and sermon.  Our critical interrogations of textual accounts of stabbings, rapes, floggings, and below the belt punches will include but certainly will not be limited to topics and issues relating to 1) the rise of vernacular writing and forms of resistance to it 2) the hermeneutics of popular insurgency and ecclesiastical reform 3) piety, suffering, and the rituals of self-sacrifice 4) editorial revisionism, censorship, and other modes of “textual assault.”   Authors include the Beowulf and Gawain-poets, La3amon, Chaucer, Langland, and Usk.  Course requirements:  one shorter essay, a final research paper, midterm, final, and an in-class presentation.