English 409/509: Literature of the Medieval Period

Cr. 3 


This course offers an introduction to a large and various body of English literature by focusing on several types. For instance, reading and discussion may include lyric, ballad, narrative, drama, meditation, and romance--some in modern English, some in middle English. Early in the semester we will read and listen to middle English so that we quickly become comfortable with it and begin to enjoy its distinctive qualities. As we read Chaucer, the Pearl Poet, Malory, the Wakefield Master, and others, we will consider what themes and forms of expression are distinctive to medieval England and how they connect to modern and (seemingly) more familiar themes and forms. Background lectures will offer information on intellectual, religious, artistic, and social issues that are closely linked to literature from 1100-1500. Students should expect two unit exams and a comprehensive final exam; they may choose between writing two relatively compact critical essays (approximately four to six pages) or one longer paper (of ten to twelve pages).