Class Schedule, Spring 2014
Typographic Conventions for this Web site: Blue underscored text is hyperlinked to documents you should read after you finish reading the day's assigned reading in print or in the PDF files found on the public folder (e.g., "Intentional Fallacy"). Because well-informed users of critical methods always pay attention to who invented the method they are using, theorists' names in the syllabus will be introduced in red bold-face type. This will help you sort out varieties of each critical method which derive from different theorists. Article and Web page titles are indicated by quotation marks, like "Orson Welles – Painter" or "English 105.16, Spring 2010, Syllabus View." Because web pages typically use underscoring to indicate the presence of a hyperlink to another web page or application, italic type will be used, as MLA Style requires, to indicate book, periodical, or Web site titles (Mosses from the Old Manse, Sight and Sound, or British Library: English Short Title Catalog). Italics also are used to set off foreign words or phrases in English text (E.g., "As Bogart and Bergman watch from the restaurant's window, the sound truck's speakers blare the message, 'Die deutschen Truppen Stehen vor den Toren von Paris.'"). Learn to pay attention to the distinction between italics and roman type. This difference that rapidly is being forgotten by those who read only on the Internet, where playing around with type fonts has brought readers to the brink of the anarchic print conventions of the late Seventeenth Century.
Week 1-- Medieval English ideas of identity: household goods, belief, and social organization; capitalism vs. feudal loyalty; God as a feudal lord. Come to class ready to work the first day! See the short but important reading assignments below.
Course introduction--European and English Medieval culture (C11-15); early instruction in how to read and interpret Medieval literature, and how to read and pronounce Middle English. Please read in time for class the Riverside Chaucer (RC) "Introduction" first 11 pages (xv-xxvi) for a short biography of Chaucer. Also please see the pre-course introduction to thinking like a C14 Londoner. Our primary text for this class will be Chaucer's "Gentilesse" (RC: 654), in Furnivall's Earliest English Wills, the will of Robert Corn (the first and oldest one), who was buried in St. Mary's Abbechurch, Abchurch Lane, Candlewick Street, London. Remember to print the will so that you can take notes and bring it to class! And read this brief excerpt from the "Prologue" to the collected lais of Marie de France. . Click here to hear Allan Baragona (VMI) read "Gentilesse" in Middle English. Click here for a guide to today's class.
Later this week and next, I hope to meet with all of you to get to know your interests in studying medieval literature, and to help you start practicing your Middle English. I know some of you will be worried about the Middle English part, but if you treat it like "singing," and practice the tune, the sound of it will become familiar to you within a few weeks. I have made a set of conference times available. Click here for the online schedule and email me several times you might be able to meet. Click here for help understanding how to pronounce Middle English vowels and consonants.
Thurs. 1/30: Read A generall Rule to teche euery man that is willynge for to lerne to serve a lorde or mayster in euery thyng to his plesure [A fifteenth-century guide for household servants of the nobility]. The text of the "Rule," itself, runs from page 11 to page 17. A printable PDF version is stored here--remember to print pages 11-17 so that you can take notes and bring it to class! Also read the wills of Lady Alice West (†1395), who was buried in Christ-Church, Hampshire, and Dame Isabel, Countess of Warwick (†1439), who was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey, in Furnivall's Earliest English Wills, and Sir Thomas Littleton, Littleton's Tenures in English, "Homage," "Fealty," "Attournment". Click here for a guide to today's class.
Week 2--Medieval English feudal mentalities in short lyrics: love as a rule-based invention, and love among the estates of English society; so-called "courtly love" and Christian marriages; Chaucer's lyrics and dream visions: the two kinds of "courtship," erotic and political / love, death & dream psychology
Tue. 2/4: Read Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love [online excerpts--the complete translation is on reserve for English 240 at the library], Chaucer's "Merciles Beaute," "Against Women Unconstant," "To Rosemounde" (RC: 649), "Truth" (RC: 653, and click here to hear Susan Yager read the poem), "Lak of Stedfastnesse" (RC: 654), "Lenvoy de Chaucer a Bukton" (RC: 655-6), and "Chaucers Wordes Unto Adam, His Owne Scriveyn" (RC 650); Beatritz, Comtessa de Dia, "Estat ai en greu cossirier" / "Of late I've been in great distress"; and Bernart de Ventadorn, “Can vei la lauzeta mover” [“When I see the lark beat his wings”].
Remember that medieval lyrics were made to be sung, though in some cases, the tunes had to be reconstructed from fragmentary evidence. To hear Marie Lafitte and the Ensemble Unicorn performing a rather spirited up-tempo version of Bernart's song, click here. To hear Micrologus perform the same text and tune more slowly, click here. Which do you think better suits the lyric? At this early stage in your Middle English studies, and for texts as compressed and tricky as Chaucer's lyrics, you may find it helpful to consult the "Explanatory Notes" at the back of the Riverside Chaucer Sign up for Middle English practice conferences and in-class presentations/interpretations. Click here for a web page containing interpretive help for the problem of "courtly love" and reading Chaucer's lyric poems. Maria Rosa Menocal on the Arab roots of "Courtly Love" lyrics.
Wed. 2/5: Middle English practice conferences (c. 20 minutes each). Prepare to read me, in your best Middle English, a passage of at least one coherent sentence (not "line of poetry") from Parliament of Foules, ll. 1-699, and be ready to tell me, in Modern English paraphrase, what Chaucer told us in Middle English. Click here for the online schedule and email me several times you might be able to meet.
Thurs. 2/6: Background: Read the Chaucer biographical material in RC xv-xxvi and Chaucer's Parliament of Foules, ll. 1-699. For a free, online version of the poem at the Online Medieval & Classical Library (Douglas B. Killings and Roy Tennant), click here. For some additional interpretive help with PoF, click here. Parliament of Foules "Dramatis Personae"
Fri. 2/7: Middle English practice conferences (c. 20 minutes each). Prepare to read me, in your best Middle English, a passage of at least one coherent sentence from The Boke of the Duchess, ll. 1-709, and be ready to tell me, in Modern English paraphrase, what Chaucer told us in Middle English. Click here for the online schedule and email me several times you might be able to meet.
Week 3--Geoffrey Chaucer, dream visions: the two kinds of "courtship," erotic and political / love, death & dream psychology
Read Chaucer's The Boke of the Duchess, ll. 1-709. (Note: this hyperlink goes to a general introduction to the poem.) For a free, online version of the poem at the Online Medieval & Classical Library (Douglas B. Killings and Roy Tennant), click here. To read an English translation of the Ovidian narrative Chaucer summarizes in the BoD introduction, click here.
Wed. 2/12: Middle English conferences (c. 20 minutes). Prepare to read me, in your best Middle English, a passage of at least one coherent sentence from The Boke of the Duchess, ll. 719-1334, and be ready to tell me, in Modern English paraphrase, what Chaucer told us in Middle English. Click here for the online schedule and email me several times you might be able to meet.
Th. 2/13: Read Chaucer's The Boke of the Duchess, ll. 710-1334. (Note: this hyperlink goes to a passage-specific set of discussion issues that might be helpful when writing a mid-semester paper about BoD.)
Week 4-- Marie de France, Breton lais and their Middle English adaptations Click here for some notes toward a structuralist analysis of the Middle English Breton lais. Click here for Paul Zumthor's concept of mouvánce of a narrative from one culture or language to another. Note that Laskaya and Salisbury's edition, The Middle English Breton Lais, is available online, but I strongly urge you to read the print version. If your budget is too restricted to pay even $15 for a used paperback, please consider printing the online version so that you can take notes on the texts.
Tue. 2/18: Read Marie de France, Lais of Marie de France: "Le Fresne," (pp. 61-67 in the Busby and Burgess edition) and the Middle English "Lay Le Freine," Online Introduction to "Lay Le Freine"; Online Text of "Lay Le Freine" in Middle English], Marie de France, "Lanval" (pp. 61-7 & 73-81, in the Busby and Burgess edition) and Thomas Chestre's Middle English: "Sir Launfal" [Online Introduction to "Sir Launfal"; Online Text of "Sir Launfal"] (Note: Thomas Chestre is one of the few named Middle English poets composing Breton lais, but we know almost nothing else about him other than that he also is named as the author of the romance, Lybeaus Desconus or "The Fair Unknown.")
Th. 2/20: "Sir Degare," "Bisclavert," and "Emare," (a paper text of these "non-Marie" lais is available in Rumble, 81-177). [Online Introduction to "Sir Degare"; Online Text of "Sir Degare" Online introduction to "Emare"; Online Text of "Emare".
Week 5--Middle English English Breton Lais with No Link to Marie. / the "Gawain" romances Click here for some analytical strategies for writing about folk-art literature in the lais, and the Gawain-romances, vs. the self-conscious, "high-art" literature of Chaucer and the Pearl-Poet.
Breton lais in Middle English: read "Sir Orfew," "Sir Gowther," and "Sir Cleges" (L&S, 15-59, 263-307, and 367-407). [Online Introduction to "Sir Gowther"; Online Text of "Sir Gowther"; Online Introduction to "Sir Orfeo"; Online Text of Sir Orfeo"].
Th. 2/27: "The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle" (852 lines) and "Sir Gawain and the Carle of Carlisle" (500 lines). [Note: because these readings were added to the syllabus too late for a book-order, please consult the online Introduction to "Wedding"; online text of "Wedding"; online Introduction to "Carle"; and online text of "Carle"].
Week 6--Alliterative verse: the Pearl-Poet--romance revisited; Christian and secular romance
Read the Pearl-Poet's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Fyts 1 and 2 (ll. 1-1125). Click here for the Luminarium.org links to the Middle English text and some Modern English translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Click here for the U. Toronto text of the Middle English followed by Modern English prose translations which you can compare with Finch's.
Th. 3/6: Read the Pearl Poet's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Fyts 3 and 4 (ll. 1126-2530). Click here for links to seasonal images from life on the estate of a great lord like Gawain's Welsh host.
Week 7--Alliterative verse dream vision: the Pearl-Poet--mystical poetry and numerology; dream-visions meet mathematics. Click here for some points of connection and difference between the Pearl-Poet's two greatest surviving works, Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Tue. 3/11: Introduction to the Pearl-Poet and the alliterative, rhyming dream vision, Pearl: nglo-Saxon alliterative verse and the Middle English "Alliterative Revival"; magnates and barons vs. the king's court; Northwest Midlands dialect; numerological interpretation. Read Pearl, stanza groups 1 through 10 (600 lines, or is it 599 lines, because the fifth stanza in the eighth group appears to be missing a line?). For a list of all stanza group link words, click here.
Th. 3/13: Read Pearl, stanza groups 11 through 20 (612 lines, because the fifteenth group appears to have an extra stanza--hmmm...something funny going on here, eh?). Click here for one possible way to analyze the poem's rhetoric.
Friday 3/14: Negotiable deadline for Midterm Papers, 5 PM, emailed as a properly formatted, MS-Word-readable file. I am willing to discuss alternative paper deadlines, but talk to me early in the process, if possible, so that I can plan my own work. When you email the paper, please double check your "Sent Mail" folder to make sure you actually attached the paper file with changes saved, and including Works Cited. Click here for the course "style sheet," a shortened version of MLA's description of its format. Click here for several ways to approach interpreting Medieval literature using tools you learned in Critical Methods. Click here for the evaluation criteria I will use when reading the papers.
Sat. 3/15-Sun. 3/23: Spring Break
Week 8--Manuscript construction, composition order, and Arthurian romance Reading Malory is more complicated than reading Marie or Chaucer because we have three possible versions of his text: the one Caxton edited for the first print edition in 1484, Vinaver's edition of Caxton and the Winchester Manuscript (1947/1967/1990), and the Winchester MS facsimile, itselfl(1976). Click here for a short overview of this interpretive problem. The short answer is, "read Vinaver's edition," but do so with an awareness that Vinaver made numerous questionable editorial decisions that we can challenge based on the Winchester MS facsimile and/or Caxton's edition. To read the story of how Walter Oakeshott discovered the manuscript Vinaver's edition is based on (1934), click here. Provenance of Malory's Text. Malory's Sources.
Read in Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur, "The Tale of King Arthur" ("Merlin," "Balin or the Knight with the Two Swords," "Torre and Pellinor," "The War with the Five Kings," "Arthur and Accolon," and "Gawain, Ywain, and Marhalt"). (Malory 3-110) Note this hyperlink covers all of "Segment 1," the first continuous sequence of composition in the Winchester Manuscript (ff. 1-70) and ends where the "Roman War" narrative (which we're not reading) starts. For a short note on how Malory was edited by Vinaver based on the Winchester MS, click here.
Th. 3/27: Read "A Noble Tale of Sir Launcelot du Lake," "The Tale of Gareth that was called Bewmaynes," (149-226). Malory and the Law; Caxton and Career. Malory's "French Book" authority claims.
Week 9--"the matter of Britain" in Arthurian romance
Read excerpts from the "Trystram" and "Sankgreall": "Lancelot and Elaine," "The Departure," "Lancelot," "Castle of Corbenic," and "Miracles of Galahad" (Malory 477-506, 515-524, 551-558, 593-608)
Th. 4/3: Read "The Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere" to the end of "The Healing of Sir Urry" (611-669). We now are in a section of the text in which Malory begins to take the kinds of artistic liberties with his translation/transformation of his sources that Modern readers expect of a fiction-writer. For a chart of locations of the "Month of May" transitions, which accompany some of his most highly charged alterations of the sources, click here. Click here for a short discussion of the signs of this change. For tables combining several stylistic measures of Malory's shift from translator to forger to author, click here.
Week 10--"the matter of Britain," Malory's Morte and romance as tragedy; and "the matter of Troy," Chaucer's Troilus (Book I) and romance as comedy. For a hyperlink to an online text of Barry Windeatt's edition of Chaucer's Troilus, click here and scroll down to "Chaucer, Geoffrey."
Read the conclusion of "The Book of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere" and "The Most Piteous Tale of the Morte Arthur Saunz Guerdon" (673-726).
Thurs. 4/10: Click here for an overview of Chaucer's Troilus and its relationship to its sources. Before you start this narrative, make sure you have some idea of its relationship to the acts of translation and authorial invention, literary influence, and cultural change. Malory is often compared, disparagingly, as being less "original" or "creative" than Chaucer, but in their use of previous poets' work as their starting points, they are very similar as poets. Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book I, ll. 1-938 (T reveals C's name to her uncle and P demands T repent to God of Love) . For a hyperlink to an online text of Barry Windeatt's edition of Chaucer's Troilus, click here and scroll down to "Chaucer, Geoffrey."
Week 11--the Renaissance Chaucer; the "matter of Troy"; romance as erotic instruction (Troilus I-II) Click here for some close-reading tips for the Troilus. You can read Chaucer as you do Dickinson or Melville, but you need a little dictionary help with key words and a little concordance help sifting through the text for thematic repetitions.
Tue. 4/15: Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book I, lines 939-1092 and II, lines 1-826 (C almost talks herself out of and into loving T, then goes down to hear Antigone's song).
Click here to hear Susan Yager (Iowa State U.) read Book II, lines 449-504,
Thurs. 4/17: Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book II, lines 827-1757 (C's nightingale-inspired dream, Pandarus teaches T to write a love letter (which the narrator paraphrases), P delivers the letter to C "by force" and takes C's answering letter to T (also paraphrased, C invited to Deiphebus' house for dinner where she will meet T for the first time)
Week 12--romance as erotic instruction and tragedy (Troilus III-IV)
Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book III, lines 1-924 (P is midway through persuading C to allow T to come to her bed).
Th. 4/24: Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book III, lines 925-1820 and Book IV, lines 1-140 (C's father has persuaded the Greeks to attempt to trade the captive Antenor for Criseyde).
Week 13--romance as tragedy (Troilus IV-V);
Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV, lines 141-1078 (T has attempted to determine if C is doomed by fate to leave him, just before P enters). The Go-Gos, "Our Lips Are Sealed," a modern evocation of secret love (and its dangers).
Th. 5/1: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Book IV, lines 1079-1801 and Book V, lines 1-196 (T has just returned from leading C out of Troy and handing her horse's reigns to Diomede).
Week 14--romance as transcendence (Troilus V); Is the Troilus Chaucer's "masterpiece"? How does it compare, aesthetically and in terms of cultural influence, with Boccaccio's Il Filostrato or Chaucer's own Canterbury Tales? Especially in the "Palinode" (V: 1828 to the end), what does the Chaucerian narrator, or is it Chaucer-the-man, seem to be telling us about his experience of writing the poem and our experience of reading it? Final Paper Peer Editing Conferences
Tue. 5/6: Read Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Book V, lines 197-1869. Note that this is a longer reading than the others (1600+ lines vs. 900+ lines). That is why I am giving you four days to do it when you are at your peak skills as a reader/interpreter of Chaucer's Middle English. If the administration reschedules Convocation for a day in Reading Period when we're not holding classes anyway, I'll split this reading with Thursday's class.
Th. 5/8: 3:00-3:30 Final paper peer editing conferences. Please post your paper topic(s), with as much supporting information and reasoning as you can supply, before this Thursday morning. Read each other's topics, and offer "bon conseyl" to your colleagues. You can learn a lot by trying to explain your potential paper to students who have read the same primary sources. Even if you have only a vague notion of your topic and no clear thesis, discussing it with us will help you realize what your textual evidence may have to say. We also can help you find scholarly resources to help you develop your thesis.
As you work on your final papers, you might be comforted by the ninth-century Irish poem about a scholar and his cat, "Pangur Ban."
Final Papers are due by 5:00 PM, on the Monday of exam week. I am willing to negotiate paper deadlines, but if you are a graduating senior, be aware of the Registrar's deadline (the following Friday) for my grade submission. That imposes an absolute deadline on both of us. Click here for the evaluation criteria I will use when reading the papers.