Medieval Literature

Course Number: ENGL 115
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
General Education Areas Fulfilled: Check on GOLD
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 115
Quarter: Spring 2011
Time: 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
Location: GIRV 1115

This class surveys Old and Middle English literature of the Middle Ages, while thinking about how our oldest literary traditions help us make sense of our rapidly-changing relationship to the way we read and organize literature as we move from the printed to the digital book and from the music album to the iPod playlist. Does the format of how we read and listen, indeed, change its content?

We will begin the quarter with selections from all four Old English poetic manuscripts, focusing on the interrelationship between an Anglo-Saxon tradition of oral poetry and the textuality of the manuscripts in which these poems are found. By attending to the relationship between spoken and written word, to the immateriality of speech and to the materiality of medieval vellum, we will develop a complex understanding of how Anglo-Saxons thought about literacy, book production, and what it means to preserve words, visually, on the pages of a manuscript, rather than in the collective memory of a community.

From here, we'll turn to a series of Middle English manuscripts, examining how both the literature and its manuscript collocation have changed. We will read well-known pieces such as Owl and the Nightingale, Sir Orfeo, and King Horn in relation to other less-known ones that were, nonetheless, included in the same manuscripts. We will contemplate, specifically, the psychology of organizing a manuscript, thinking about how the ordering and assimilation of a group of poems into one text redirects the meaning of each, individually.

You can sign up to the wait list for this course at:

English Department Crash Policy