Spring 2018 Medieval Studies Courses
Searching for an interesting and engaging class this spring? Look no further than the Medieval Studies course selections!
MEDIEVAL STUDIES COURSES – SPRING 2018
ENGL 390-16W Adv Sem
The Oldest English Poetry
In English, poetry was at first an oral form: it was passed down in recitation, not writing. The Anglo-Saxons learned to write when they converted to Christianity; soon thereafter, they used their new skill to record their vernacular poetry in writing. The poems that survive from this earliest period include tales of heroes and monsters, songs of loss and exile, saints’ lives, biblical narratives, visions, and riddles. This poetry is prized for emotional depth, luminous detail, and intricate language. We will read several of the best poems – among them, Beowulf, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Dream of the Rood, and Judith – in modern English translations, for the original language (“Old English”) is now comprehensible only after a prior course of language study. (This course assumes no prior knowledge of medieval English.) We then follow the poetic tradition forward, past the Norman Conquest, to forms of the English language somewhat closer to our own. We read an Arthurian romance (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, again mostly in modern English translation), a re-telling of the biblical story of Jonah (Patience), and Piers Plowman, a brilliantly surrealistic, restless sequence of dream visions, motivated by a single question: how should I live?We will read Patience and Piers Plowman in the original language, termed “Middle English.” Learning to read Middle English takes work, but the reward is an unusually fine-grained and intimate experience of literature.
Medieval Literature: Drama from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
This course will trace the history of English drama from its Latin roots through the Middle Ages and into the sixteenth century. Readings will include examples of liturgical drama, cycle drama, saints' plays, morality plays, and humanist drama, as well as relevant literary criticism. The course will also examine each type of drama in light of the conventions and practices that governed its original production. Although some texts will be in modern English translation, others will be in the original Middle English. Requirements will include active class participation, weekly responses, one short essay, one oral report and an annotated bibliography, and a final essay.
This course surveys English, American, and Anglophone drama from the Middle Ages to the present, along with some plays and drama theory from beyond the Anglophone world that influenced writers in English. Special attention will be paid to literary, social, and historical innovations and conventions that have defined the genre, its performance, and its reception in various periods. The final grade will be based on class participation, essays, and mid-term and final exams.
Medieval Objects WEDS 2:30 – 5:00 Water Tower Corboy 323
Tapestries, ivory diptychs, reliquaries, swords, manuscript codices:
the material culture of the Middle Ages is unmistakable and varied.
Since the “material turn” in the historical sciences, we have become more attentive to the roles of objects in medieval society. Do “things” merely illustrate realities, or do they have “agency”? How do objects both reflect and transmit ideas and values? How did medieval people envision their relationship with the things they made and used? How can we “think with things” in order to better understand medieval culture?
Through recent scholarship and primary sources, we will explore ways that medieval people related to their material culture, as well as the ways we today can reconstruct those relationships.
Each week we will focus on a different object or group of objects, through images and through direct contact with the objects. We will spend at least a third of our time at LUMA, at the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the Newberry Library, along with other possible sites.
→ Thus please be aware that we may not always be meeting at our WTC classroom.
Assignments will include two article reviews, several types of research on particular objects, and contribution to a “virtual exhibit” of medieval material culture we will create.
MSTU 301 (1.5 credit hrs)
Integrative Interdisciplinary Seminar – actually a sort of term-long independent research project, designed and executed in close cooperation with one or more medievalist faculty. In conjunction with MSC lecture series.
MEDIEVAL QUEENS: BRIDES, PEACEWEAVERS, REGENTS
Stabler Miller CC 506 T/TH 1pm -2:15pm
Medieval queens occupied powerful, exceptional, and (ultimately)
tenuous positions in medieval society. Their positions, whether acquired via marriage or (rarely) inheritance, required constant negotiation of cultures, political factions, and gender expectations.
Women who became queens through marriage traveled to foreign lands as young women, straddling two cultures and two families and s erving as political mediators between their birth families and royal husbands. As foreigners, Queens faced suspicion and distrust. However, as wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, Queens had undeniable influence within the family, influence that could translate into significant political power. Queens served their realms as regents and intercessors. Queens were admired as models of piety and patronesses of art and education; some were maligned as well as agents of discord and instigators of civil wars. Their positions were exceptional among medieval women, but required constant manufacture and maintenance of networks of loyalty.
This course will explore this politically powerful position as it developed from a spousal partnership in the early Middle Ages into an institution in the later Medieval period. Through the lens of queenship, we will examine the ways in which gender, ideals of rulership, inheritance practices, and kinship networks shaped European politics and culture in the Middle Ages.
Short papers (3@ 15% each) - 45%;
Wikipedia project and presentation–30%
HIST 329 Internship (Medieval)
Medieval Garden and Labyrinth Internship is looking for people who want to do both scholarly and creative work. A ‘practicum’ in medieval horticulture could include re-creating the small medieval garden behind Crown Center (now in a state of friche) or planning for the new medieval pavement labyrinth to replace the lost painted one.