English 166

Special Topics: The Age of Crisis


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2020 Strub, Spencer
TTh 3:30-5

Other Readings and Media

A course reader including medieval primary sources, modern theory, and contemporary criticism and history

Description

There was a recurring plague, a changing climate, a never-ending war, a failed revolution and a cruel reaction, paranoia and persecution, political strife and inept leadership and a widespread sense that everything had gone wrong and could never be fixed again: fourteenth-century Engand might have been a mess, but it's our kind of mess. The silver lining? During this period of crisis, a public eager to read Engish literature emerged. The literary corpus that spoke to this public—poems dedicated to protest, mourning, and joyous invention—is as inventive and resilient as any in the language.

This class will explore how late medieval poets engaged with the tumultuous world around them. We will study the forms that represented contemporary events openly or in code, from antifraternal satire to dream visions and personification allegories, while examining the assumptions about gender, race, nature, and religious belief that distinguished their age of crisis from our own. Our goal is to understand the fourteenth century on its own terms. But the class will not shy away from anachronism: we might learn some lessons in surviving tough times.

Texts include: Middle English Political Writings, ed. Dean (TEAMS); William Langland, Piers Plowman B, ed. Robertson and Shepherd (Norton); Geoffrey Chaucer, Dream Visions and Other Poems, ed. Lynch (Norton) 

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.

Other Recent Sections of This Course

fall, 2020

166/1

Special Topics: Writing as Social Practice

spring, 2020

166/2

Special Topics: The Literature & Art of Incarceration

166/3

Special Topics: Moby-Dick

166/4

Special Topics: Pomo: Exploring the Landscape of Postmodernism

166/5

Special Topics: American Humor: Books & Movies

166/6

Special Topics: Art of Writing: Grant Writing, Food Writing, Food Justice

166/7

Special Topics: Arthurian Romance

summer, 2020

166/1

Special Topics: Medieval Fantasy from Tolkien to Game of Thrones

166/2

Special Topics: Global Catastrophe and Modern Literature

166/3

Special Topics: The Broadway Musical

fall, 2019

166/1

Special Topics: Getting Global: Literature & Film of an Expanding & Unequal World

166/2

Special Topics: Literature in the Century of Film

166/3

Special Topics: Writing as Social Practice

166/4

Special Topics: Literatures of the Asian Diaspora in America

166/7

Special Topics: Charles Dickens

166/8

Special Topics: Green Thought in a Green Shade

166/9

Special Topics: New Orleans

166/11

Special Topics: The Works of Vladimir Nabokov

Naiman, Eric
spring, 2019

166/1

Special Topics: Gothic

166/2

Special Topics: Marxism and Literature

166/4

Special Topics: Poetry and Prose of Race and Social Class

166/5

Special Topics: Asian American Literature - World, Nation, Locality

166/6

Special Topics: Realism, Then and Now

166/7

Special Topics: Anton Chekhov

Muza, Anna
fall, 2018

166/2

Special Topics: Alfred Hitchcock

166/3

Special Topics: Journeys: British World-Building, c. 700-1700

166/4

Special Topics: "this morning's minion": Sonic Mysticism in Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson

166/5

Special Topics

spring, 2018

166/1

Special Topics: Comedy & Violence

166/2

Special Topics: Romantic Science

166/3

Special Topics: Classical & Renaissance Drama

166/4

Special Topics: Marxism & Literature

166/5

Special Topics: Emily Dickinson

166/6

Special Topics: Speculative Fiction

summer, 2018

166/1

Special Topics: Speculative Fictions, Possible Futures

166/2

Special Topics: Games of Thrones, Medieval to Modern


Back to Semester List