Spring 2014 Courses

 The following is a list of courses relating to the Concurrent Degree in Medieval Studies.  Please see the online schedule of classes for updated information. 


Reading Beowulf

Course/Section:  English 205B 
Time:  Tuesday/Thursday,  2-3:30
Instructor:  O’Brien O’Keeffe, Katherine

In “Reading Beowulf” we will be particularly interested in the making of Beowulf as a text and as a canonical poem. The first goal addresses issues of language, paleography, and textual editing as we translate; the second addresses the cultural investments of the last two centuries (and of the present moment) that have shaped our reading(s) of the poem. Attending to the particularity of the poem’s language and the poem’s vexed relationship with the culture that produced it will raise questions about Anglo-Saxon poetics, literary history, and aesthetics; it will also invite other strategies of reading that the members of the course bring to the table. 

Text:  Klaeber, Fr., et al. Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, 4th ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.  ISBN 0802095674 (paper)   [Note: Fourth edition only]

Prerequisite:  Completion of English 205A (Old English) or the equivalent.  Or permission of the instructor.



Late Medieval Fictions of Love

Course: French 210A  
Location: 4226 Dwinelle Hall
Time: Monday, 1-4 PM
Instructor: Hult, David

Readings will include: Guillaume de Lorris, Le Roman de la Rose;  Richard de Fournival, Le Bestiaire d’Amour; Guillaume de Machaut, Le Livre du Voir Dit; Alain Chartier, La Belle Dame sans Mercy; Christine de Pizan, Cent Ballades d’Amant et de Dame; René d’Anjou, Le Livre du Cœur d’Amour Épris

 This seminar will focus on the tradition(s) of love narrative in the later French Middle Ages beginning with two important thirteenth-century works that set the tone for centuries to come by inscribing the lyric tradition within romance narrative:  Guillaume de Lorris’s enormously influential, fragmentary Roman de la Rose; and Richard de Fournival’s intriguing Bestiary of Love, which inscribes the love quest within the hitherto didactic genre of animal lore, the bestiary, and includes a clever response on the part of the lady.  The balance of the semester will be devoted to noted authors of the fourteenth and fifteenth cenuries, including Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Christine de Pizan, Alain Chartier, Charles d’Orléans, and René d’Anjou.  Although previous knowledge of Old French is not required, inasmuch as most texts will be read in original language editions with facing-page modern French translation, class discussions will frequently focus on the original text.  Topics of discussion will include the question of the first-person narrative voice, the relations between lyric and romance, song and book, evolving notions of authorship, and the rhetoric of courtly love.  



Introduction to Byzantine Studies

Course/Section: History 280/285
Location: TBA
Time:  TBA
Instructor:  Mavroudi, Maria

History 280/285: This seminar will offer both a general introduction to and an investigation of special topics within Byzantine studies.  The weekly seminar discussions will be organized as follows: weeks 1-9 covered the period from the 7th until the 15th centuries in chronological sequence.  Students will be expected to become familiar with the sequence of events in Byzantine history through reading G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State; at the same time,  through reading additional secondary bibliography, they will be expected to think about particular problems that modern historians face in their attempt to study and interpret these events. Weeks 10-15 will be dedicated to particular aspects of Byzantine studies: the survival of Byzantine culture after the political end of the empire in 1453; Byzantium and the Slavs; Byzantine economy; Byzantine learned and vernacular literature; Byzantine epic poetry and the expression of collective identity, in the Middle Ages and now; the study of Byzantine art; Byzantine studies as a modern discipline. Students taking this seminar as 285 will be required to identify a research topic early in the semester, on which they will present a research report and produce a final paper. 


History of Art

Theories of Mimesis

Course/Section:  HA263 Graduate seminar
Location:  308B Doe Library
Times: Monday, 10-1 PM
Instructor: Fricke, Beate

Mimesis, Greek for "imitation" has become a key term in recent debates in a number of disciplines. However, what is at its core is often astonishingly undefined, open and ambivalent.  Important theories of Mimesis have been articulated in the 20th century by Auerbach, Benjamin, Caillois, Damisch, Genette, Girard, Taussig and others. In this course we will discuss a range of medieval and early modern images and texts in order to understand pre-modern reflections regarding mimesis – as well as in 20th century. Starting with antique and medieval primary sources addressing key moments of mimesis we will also explore modern theories of mimesis. Topics that will be touched on in the course will include medieval and early modern visual culture as well as visual and literal exegesis. However, all primary objects will be works of Western medieval art, but through crossing the threshold between pre-modern and modern examples will help us to understand the premises for the visual culture involving the rise of naturalism, and more generally the nature of representation in medieval and early modern culture. (Several reading assignments will be in German.)



Italian Studies

The Tradition of Commentary on Dante's "Commedia,"1321-1481

Course/Section: Italian Studies 210
Location: TBA
Time: Tuesday, 2-5
Instructor: Botterill, Steven

The fourteenth- and fifteenth-century commentaries on Dante's Commedia, complete and partial, in Italian and Latin — from the elementary textual glosses on Inferno supplied by Dante's own son Jacopo shortly after his father's death to the self-consciously monumental vademecum to the whole Commedia published by Cristoforo Landino in the late Quattrocento and intended as an enduring tribute to Dante, Florence, Italian poetry, the philosophy of Plato, and (not least) Landino himself — are a literary, critical, and sociocultural phenomenon without parallel anywhere in medieval Europe.  No other text in any vernacular language — indeed, no text in any language at all (with the sole and self-explanatory exception of the Christian Bible in its canonical Latin translation) — came close to inspiring so rich and variegated a written response from its medieval readers: dozens of texts, hundreds of thousands of words, a dazzling variety of interpretations particular and general, lucid and obscure, immediately convincing and obviously ridiculous.  Yet until very recently this endlessly fascinating and instructive body of material was available, if at all, only in unsatisfactory nineteenth-century editions and to scholars with access to major research libraries; and even today it is far more often mechanically cited than creatively deployed by academic and scholarly writers on Dante.  This seminar, taught by the first (and so far only) English-speaking scholar to attempt a comprehensive history and taxonomy of the commentaries, will introduce students to the material and the critical and theoretical issues it raises; outline the historical development of Dante-commentary studies from the mid nineteenth-century to the present day; and argue for the continuing centrality of these centuries-old texts, in theory and practice alike, to any present-day effort to achieve an understanding of Dante's masterpiece that is both historically informed and critically astute.

Students will be required to devise a research project connected with the course, present it to the seminar in an oral report, and submit their findings in a substantial research paper at semester's end.
Reading knowledge of Italian required; reading knowledge of Latin useful.  The course will be conducted in English.
No books are required.  The commentary texts will be accessed online via such resources as the Dartmouth and Princeton Dante Projects; secondary readings (in English and Italian) will be assigned and made available as necessary during the semester.


Also of Interest:


Celtic Studies

Medieval Celtic Culture

 Course: Celtic Studies 128
Location: TBA
Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 11-12:30
Instructor: Rejhon, Annalee

A study of medieval Celtic culture as it is reflected in Irish and Welsh texts ranging from literary works to law tracts and historical chronicles.  The course examines the sweep of medieval Celtic culture, beginning with its pre-history and extending to the thirteenth century, but with a focus on the last centuries of that time frame; it will examine how Celtic culture fared in the face of Anglo-Norman incursions and will briefly study how Celtic material became a major source for European literature.  The works for Irish include the pseudo-historical Book of Invasions, the Testimony of Morann, the Bee Laws, tales from the Finn Cycle, and Gerald of Wales’ History and Topography of Ireland.  For Wales, texts include the GododdinCulhwch and Olwen, the Chronicle of the Princes (extracts), theLaws of Hywel Dda, Gerald of Wales’ Description of Wales, and the Life of St. Cadog.  Irish, Welsh, and Norse versions of the Tristan legend will also be read.  All texts will be available in English translation.

Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

No prerequisites.


Celtic Christianity

Course: Celtic Studies 173
Location: TBA
Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 2-3:30 
Instructor: Rejhon, Annalee

The course will examine the early reception and development of Christianity in Ireland and Britain. Particular attention will be paid to the role that insular pre-Christian Celtic religious systems played in this reception and the conversion to Christian belief.  Lectures and primary works that will be read (complete or in extract) to elucidate this issue will be drawn from wisdom texts, secular and canon law texts, ecclesiastical legislation, penitentials and monastic rules, apocrypha and lyric poetry.  A selection of saints' lives, both Irish and Welsh, with a French connection via St. Martin of Tours, will round out the course.

All texts will be available in English translation and the majority of them available in a Course Reader.  These will include:  the Irish wisdom text, Audacht Morainn [The Testimony of Moran]; Cáin Adamnáin [the law of Adomnan], Cáin Domnaig [the law of Sunday] and Cáin Darí [the law of Dari]; The Irish Penitentials, the "Monastery of Tallaght"; the "Martyrology of Oengus" and the Old Irish poems of Blathmac; The Voyage of St. Brendan, and extracts from the following saints' lives:  Adomnan's Life of Columba, Muirchú's Life of St. Patrick, Cogitosus's Life of St. Brigid, Rhigyfarch's Life of St. David, Lifris's Life of St. Cadog, and Sulpicius's Life of St. Martin.

Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

No prerequisites, although a basic knowledge of Christianity is required.


Comparative Literature

Re-Thinking Genre: The Middle Ages and Renaissance 

Course/Section: Comp Lit 190
Location:  TBA
Times: TBA
Instructor: Christopher Davis 

What is the difference between poetry and prose? Do they convey the same kind of knowledge or experience? How is this difference represented on the written page? Such questions fascinated writers during the Medieval and Early Modern Periods. The Middle Ages saw the rise of prose narratives as an alternative to verse romance and lyric, as well as an explosion in vernacular manuscripts, which collected, defined and obsessively categorized literary form. Many genres of prose and poetry came to be identified with new ideas of linguistic, cultural and national identity, especially during the Early Modern period, when the imitation of Greek and Latin forms allowed writers to establish cultural and intellectual links to the classical past. In this course, we will explore the correspondences among genre, language and the material text by reading a broad range of works in poetry and prose, including lyrics by Dante, Petrarch and Ronsard, Arthurian romance, Don Quixote, crusade chronicles and the travels of Marco Polo.