English 190

Research Seminar: Poetry and Poetics in the Middle Ages


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
11 Fall 2015 T. B. A.
TTh 2-3:30 305 Wheeler

Book List

Chaucer, Geoffrey: Dream Visions and Other Poems; Delanty, Greg and Michael Matto, eds.: The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation; Hoffman, Richard L. and Maxwell S. Luria, eds.: Middle English Lyrics; Lydgate, John: Mummings and Entertainments; Reames, Sherry, ed.: Middle English Legends of Women Saints; Shuffleton, George, ed.: Codez Ashmole 61: A Compilation of Popular Middle English Verse; Stanbury, Sarah, ed.: Pearl

Other Readings and Media

Online Course Packet including additional selections from: (primary works) Horace, Quintilian, Augustine, Jerome, Isidore of Seville, Judith, Guthlac A, Dream of the Rood, Aldhelm, Bede, Asser, William of Malmesbury, Conrad of Hirsau, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Boccaccio, Prik of Conscience, Gower, Lydgate, Henryson, Hoccleve; and (secondary works) Eric Auerbach, Paul Zumthor, Eleanor Johnson, Martin Irvine, Rita Copeland, Peter Dronke, A.J. Minnis, Maura Nolan, Christopher Cannon, Fredric Jameson, Northrop Frye, Fred Robinson, John Miles Foley, Robert Bjork, Renee Trilling, and Emily Thornbury.

Description

This class will explore early England's shifting literary landscape in order to better understand what poetry was and what it was for in the Middle Ages. Juxtaposing our close analyses of individual poems and groups of poems with medieval theories of poetry and metapoetic discourse, we will hypothesize the values (aesthetic, social, intellectual, spiritual) medieval cultures assigned poetry and try to articulate the various functions poetry could serve in those cultures. We will ask how medieval thinkers defined poetry; how they aligned it with other artistic and intellectual pursuits; how the actual poetry produced followed, generated, strayed from, or contradicted the prescriptions of medieval literary theorists; and how medieval poets conceived of and navigated tradition and innovation. Drawing on our findings, we will try to account for the emergence, endurance, dominance, and/or disappearance of certain poetic genres, modes, and forms in the English Middle Ages, while tracing their development and divergence from earlier literature, and examining their afterlives in later periods. A major goal will be to gain familiarity with the Middle Ages' many poetic forms and kinds (and their history), but we will also pay sustained attention to the ways medieval verse helped its makers and audiences conceptualize authority, identity, history, religion, invention, emotion, and community.

Please read the paragraph about English 190 on page 2 of the instructions area of this Announcement of Classes for more details about enrolling in or wait-listing for this course.

This section of English 190 satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Please click here for more information about enrollment in English 190.

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