English 190

Research Seminar: Invasions of Britain in Medieval Literature


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
10 Fall 2010 Thornbury, Emily V.
Thornbury, Emily
TTh 11-12:30 224 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Treharne, E., ed.: Old and Middle English, c.890–c.1450; Bede: The Ecclesiastical History of the English People; Geoffrey of Monmouth: The History of the Kings of Britain; Swanton, M. J., ed.: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Burgess, G. S., trans.: The History of the Norman People: Wace’s Roman de Rou; a course pack

Description

How does history become literature?

By examining medieval narratives about the four great invasions of early Britain, we will try to understand how bare lists of events can be transformed into great works of art. We will begin with the Norman Conquest and work backward in time through the successive invasions of the Vikings, Saxons, and Romans: in each case, we will try to understand how the ‘future’ affects the portrayal of the past. Throughout the course, we’ll consider major questions of form and purpose—such as the lines between history, counter-history, and propaganda; how writers might give their inventions the “flavor of history”; and the literary appeal of peripheral characters. Important themes will include ideas of nationhood, justice, and fate: others will no doubt be suggested by students’ interests.

No prior work with medieval literature is necessary. Middle English texts will be read in the original; those in Old English, Old French, and Latin will be available in translation.

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

This section of English 190 is now open to Letters and Science juniors and seniors with majors other than English.

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

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