Fall 2019

Celtic

Celtic Mythology and Oral Tradition

Course/Section: Celtic 168
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Rejhon, Annalee C.

The course will examine the mythology of the Celts—their gods, goddesses, festivals, and belief systems—as it is reflected in medieval Irish and Welsh texts. Following a short presentation of introductory material regarding the history and civilization of the early Celts, the course will begin with the early Irish tale known as The Second Battle of Mag Tuired, a core mythological tale that best exemplifies the pattern of mythological deities and belief systems that pertain to varying degrees in other Celtic tales. These tales will include in Irish, the Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel, the Tale of Macc Da Thó’s Pig, Bricriu’s Feast, the Wooing of Etaín, the Dream of Oengus, the Wasting Sickness of CúChulaind, the Cattle Raid of Fróech, and the Táin, and in Welsh, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Culhwch and Olwen, Lludd and Llefelys, the Tale of Gwion Bach and the Tale of Taliesin, and the poems, “What Man the Gatekeeper” and “The Spoils of the Otherworld.” All the readings are in English translation.

Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

Texts:
Gantz, Jeffrey, tr. Early Irish Myths and Sagas. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1981. (ISBN 978-0140443974)

Ford, Patrick, tr. The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1977. (ISBN 978-0520253964)

MacCana, Proinsias. Celtic Mythology. Hamlyn, 1969. (ISBN 978-0600006473)

Littleton, C. Scott. The New Comparative Mythology. 3rd. ed. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1982. (ISBN 978-0520041035)

James, Simon. The World of the Celts. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. , 2005. (ISBN 978-0500279984)

 

English

Chaucer

Course/Section: English 111
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Miller, Jennifer

 

The Pleasures of Allegory

Course/Section: English 165
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Wilson, Evan

If you want to understand both how stories are put together and how we experience stories, allegory is not a bad place to start. Broadly speaking, an allegory is a story that demands to be read on more than one level. One version of this—maybe the most classic or typical—features personified abstractions such as "Peace," "Justice," or "Wrath" acting out their identities or explaining who they are. But the boundary between allegory and related phenomena like symbolism and metaphor is anything but clear, and allegory may be more like a tendency than a discreet category. Oh, and just to complicate things more, it's also a method of reading.

How do we know when we're reading a text with symbolic meaning? When are we justified in reading texts symbolically, and when not? What role does allegory play in shaping narratives and our experience of reading those narratives? These are some of the questions we'll pursue as we read ancient, medieval, and modern allegories and theories of allegory and symbolism. Our texts may sometimes use allegory to make a point, but they also create unique and unforgettable literary experiences. We'll consider what role allegory plays in that process—what sparks may fly from the tension between symbolic and narrative logic.

Note: All texts not in Modern or Middle English will be read in translation.

Course readings: The Song of Roland; Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; Dante, Inferno; Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
 

Course reader containing: The Dream of the Rood; Old English and Anglo-Latin riddles; medieval saints' lives; excerpts from the New Testament and The Romance of the Rose; ancient, medieval, and modern critical and theoretical texts

French

Reading and Interpretation of Old French Texts

Course/Section: French 211A
Location
: See website 
Time
: See website
Instructor
: Hult, David

Introduction to the study of medieval French language and literature of the 12th and 13th centuries. Through a careful analysis and critical interpretation of certain canonical works (La Chanson de Roland; Béroul and Thomas, Tristan; selected lais of Marie de France; selected romans of Chrétien de Troyes; Le Roman de la Rose) we will study Old French language and some main dialects; verse and prose composition; theories of the oral tradition; editorial problems; and the material aspects of the manuscript work (including some work on codicology and paleography). Class will be conducted in English. For additional details, please visit Dept. website at http://french.berkeley.edu


German

History of the German Language

Course/Section: German 270
Location
: 282 Dwinelle 
Time
: Tu 11-2
Instructor
: Rauch, Irmengard

Designed for graduate and undergraduate students interested in the story of the German language from prehistoric times to the present, and its contact with closely and remotely related languages. Understanding German shows that the same language principles underlie all language learning; their practical application for various professional skills, including digital skills, is stressed. Sociolinguistic approaches to language changes, informing the German language across time, are illustrated through the interface with literary texts dating from ancient Cattle Raids though  Runic, Gothic, Medieval German and English texts, as well as excerpts from Luther’s era, Modern and Popular Contemporary German. No prerequisites.

 

The Semiotic Tripod: Peirce, Saussure, Uexküll

Course/Section: German 290
Location
: 282 Dwinelle 
Time
: Tu 2-4
Instructor
: Rauch, Irmengard

Beyond its appearance as a buzz word found throughout academic fields and in the popular media, the established field of semiotics via the tripod of philosophy (Peirce), linguistics (Saussure), and biology (Uexküll) is clearly presented and exploited as both a humane and a natural science. Since semiotic method applies universally, that is, to all experience, the focus of its application will be to any signifying modality, that is, e.g., human, non-human, animate, inanimate, real, imaginary, which is of particular interest and practical use, immediately and in the future, to class participants.  Open to undergraduate and graduate students; no prerequisites.

 

Early German Literature: Early German Literature, from the Middle Ages to the Baroque

Course/Section: German 202A
Location
: 282 Dwinelle 
Time
: Tu 2-4
Instructor
: Tennant, Elaine

This course provides an overview of major canonical works of Medieval and Early Modern German literature.

 

History

Fashion, the Middle Ages, & the Catholic Imagination: Reconsidering the Heavenly Bodies Exhibit

Course/Section: History 39B
Location
: TBA 
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Miller, Maureen

In 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented an exhibit of contemporary designer fashions inspired by the Catholic tradition.  Entitled Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, and staged amid the museum’s Byzantine and Medieval galleries, the exhibit was opened with a Met Gala featuring celebrities—Rihanna, Madonna, Katy Perry, Cardi B—decked out in their versions of Catholic attire.  Heavenly Bodies went on to break all attendance records, but this smash hit exhibit also sparked controversy and critiques.  For scholars, the exhibit’s chief disappointment was its failure to contextualize the extraordinary haute couture garments presented or to interrogate critically the meanings generated.  What were designers trying to do with Catholic imagery?  How is fashion drawing upon the visual culture of Catholic Christianity, particularly medieval Christianity, in order to fashion contemporary identities and use the clothed body to engage and comment upon the contemporary world?

This seminar explores the relationship between contemporary fashion designers and the “Catholic imagination” by engaging students in critically examining some of the designs exhibited in the Heavenly Bodies exhibit.  After being introduced to the history of fashion and critical questions in clothing and textile studies, students will define and conduct their own research projects using the exhibit catalog as a primary source.  Having selected a garment, or collection of garments, from the exhibit, students will be guided through research and analysis of key issues:  the background, ideas, and work of the designer(s); the collection context and reception of the garment(s) exhibited; the materials, symbols, and forms used and the array of possible meanings generated; and the further meanings evoked in the exhibit by the garment’s juxtaposition with Medieval and Byzantine works of art. 

Requirements include attendance and active participation; 3 brief (5-minute) presentations; 2 short (2-3 page) papers, and a longer (10-12 page) paper bringing together and further developing the analyses in the shorter papers.

Instructor: Maureen C. Miller is author of Clothing the Clergy: Virtue and Power in Medieval Europe c. 800-1200 (Cornell University Press, 2014), which won both the American Catholic Historical Association’s John Gilmary Shea Prize for the best book in Catholic history and the Otto Gründler Prize of the Medieval Institute for an outstanding contribution to medieval studies.  She contributed to a panel at the 2018 meetings of the Medieval Academy of America on the Heavenly Bodies exhibit and maintains a lively interest in clothing history and historical as well as contemporary fashion.

 

Italy in the Age of Dante (1000-1350)

Course/Section: History 149B
Location
: TBA 
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Miller, Maureen

The history of medieval Italy is one of vivid contrasts: of beauty and brutality, freedom and tyranny, piety and blasphemy. The great poet of the Inferno summons us to consider such contrasts in nearly every canto: how can such stunningly beautiful language conjure images of such horrendous violence? This course explores the world that produced Dante, Giotto, and Saint Francis. It first traces the emergence of independent city-states in northern and central Italy after the millennium, emphasizing the particular conditions and experiences that created this distinctive medieval civilization. We will then focus on the culture of these vibrant urban centers using the artifacts they produced to discover the economic, social, religious, and political tensions underpinning them.  Were the divisions and inequities of this society central to its creativity?  We will explore with particular intensity the relationship between religion and society.  Special emphasis will also be placed on analyzing material and visual sources: do they tell a different story than the written sources?  Requirements include midterm and final examinations in addition to two short essays based on primary sources.

 

Italian

Inferno (English)

Course/Section: Italian 130A
Location
: TBA 
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: TBA

An austere ancient authority, a smitten teenage lover, a prophet, an embezzler, a national icon, an unapologetic heretic, a mercenary, and the only truly great poet to have ever lived: Dante has been called many things in the seven hundred years since he began writing, and he continues to attract the interest of a wildly diverse group of readers and commentators. In his medieval masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, Dante irreversibly transformed literary language and perhaps even the way in which our current consciousness perceives the universe. Our course will focus on the first canticle of the Divine Comedy, both the most famous and most infamous: Inferno. Our goal will be to bring Dante’s Hell to life, reconstructing the terrifying landscape and interpreting the complex poetry of a text that continues to resonate with modern audiences asintensely as it did with its medieval public.

 

Scandinavian

Early Scandinavian Literature: Introduction to skaldic poetry

Course/Section: Scandinavian 220
Location
: Dwinelle 6415 
Time
: W 1-4
Instructor
: Heslop, Kate

Arguably the longest-lived of Norse literary genres, skaldic poetry offers a fascinating opportunity to trace the development of a Viking Age artistic practice right up until the late Middle Ages. As an authored and supposedly textually invariant poetic form, it seems to be an authentic voice of the past—and is often mined for information on Viking lifeways. But it is saddled with a reputation for difficulty, and establishing a text involves unusually knotty problems. This seminar is intended to equip students to read and analyze skaldic poems, work knowledgeably with the secondary literature, and read skaldic editions with a critical eye. 

As well as acquiring a grounding in the diction, meter and style of poetry in dróttkvætt and kviðuháttr, the two main skaldic verseforms, we will investigate the media that transmit this poetry to us, via close paleographic examination of selected manuscript witnesses. The vernacular theories of poetics contained in the Prose Edda and the Old Norse grammatical literature will also be explored. We will discuss the generic distinction between ‘skaldic’ and ‘eddic’ poetry, the nature of skaldic authorship, and the issue of dating; further special topics can be covered according to the interests of the participants.

Texts:

Supplied on bcourses. Useful introductions, all available in the library, include:

Margaret Clunies Ross, A history of Old Norse poetry and poetics (Woodbridge: Brewer, 2005). Also online here.

Roberta Frank, Old Norse Court Poetry: the Dróttkvætt Stanza, Islandica 42 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1978). 

Klaus von See, Skalden: Isländische Dichter des Mittelalters (Heidelberg: Winter, 2011; first published as Skaldendichtung, Munich: Artemis, 1980).

Gabriel Turville-Petre, Scaldic Poetry (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976).

Prerequisites: At least one semester of Old Norse language, or consent of instructor. Reading knowledge of modern Scandinavian languages and German is helpful, but not required.

Workload: weekly translations; presentations of class material (primary and secondary readings).

Final research paper (20-25 pg.), due at end of semester. 

 

Viking and Medieval Scandinavia

Course/Section: Scandinavian 123
Location
: Etcheverry 3106 
Time
: MWF 12-1
Instructor
: Wellendorf, Jonas

L&S Breadth: Historical Studies

Viking and Medieval Scandinavia will explore developments and trends in the areas of social structure, trade and economy, religion, political organization, culture, literature, and technology during the Viking and Medieval periods (c. 750-1500). The course will cover the Scandinavian homelands (Denmark, Sweden, Norway) as well as the regions in which Scandinavians settled during the Viking Age. Developments in Scandinavia will be contextualized against broader trends in Europe and western Asia.

Texts: John Haywood, The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings (1995), Else Roesdahl, The Vikings (2018, 3rd ed.), Anders Winroth, The Age of the Vikings (2014) and a selection of primary sources in translation. 

Prerequisites: None.

Taught in English with readings in English.

 

Intro to Old Norse

Course/Section: Scandinavian 101A
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Moller, Karen

Would you like to learn the language that the stories of the Vikings and their descendants were written and passed down in? Old Norse literature preserves many of these tales in its sagas and poetry. In reading this literature, one can learn of the travels of medieval Scandinavians to places as distant as North America and Byzantium, the conflicts and quarrels of giants and gods, heroic encounters with crafty dragons, adaptations of Arthurian legends, and the miracles of saints and bishops.

This class will introduce students to the written vernacular language of Iceland and Norway in the Middle Ages. Class time will focus on the grammatical structure of Old Norse, translating into English, and close-reading exercises of Old Norse texts. Students will practice some English to Old Norse translation and learn about the stories and culture of medieval Scandinavia. By the end of the semester students should be able to read saga-style Old Norse prose texts in normalized orthography with the help of a dictionary. Assignments will include translations, grammatical exercises, quizzes, a midterm, and a final exam. Regular and active participation is required.

 

Spanish

Studies in Hispanic Literature, Frametale Narratives Part I: The Middle Ages

Course/Section: Scandinavian 220
Location
: TBA 
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Meerkhan, Nasser

Since their introduction into Castilian literature in mid-thirteenth century by Alfonso X The Wise, frame-tale narratives have been of great significance for Medieval Iberian literatures and beyond. These collections of short stories are based on texts from India, Persia, Baghdad, Greece, among others. By the end of the course, students will have learned the general themes and structure of frame-tale narratives, their local and universal significance, as well as their evolution over time until the end of the Middle Ages. Thus, students will be well-prepared should they decide to continue onto Part 2 of this course, to be offered in Spring 2020. Texts will include Calila e Dimna, Sendebar, Mil y Una Noches, Libro de Buen Amor, among others. Besides class discussions, the course goals will be achieved through four informal journals, one midterm, and one semester-long final essay.