English 211: Spring Term 2002
Course Overview: In this introduction to medieval and renaissance literature, we will embark on a reading journey of journeys. In the context of the genre of romance, we will read medieval and renaissance narrative accounts of encounters with exotic cultures: of the east, of the imagination, and, in the case of Shakespeare, of the New World. Beginning with some foundational reading to get a sense of classic texts read by medieval writers, we will then read medieval romances (some Arthurian) from the 12th through 15th centuries, followed by Chaucer's famous pilgrimage, and then finish with a Renaissance text: Shakespeare's Tempest. Throughout, we will consider the element of "the marvelous" as a quality of romance and as a marker of foreign cultures. We will also investigate medieval and renaissance maps, globes, and manuscripts and question how these material artifacts influenced our writers' view of the East.
As we delve into our reading, we also be considering four major topics:
This class will also prepare you to read critically and to write an academic essay based on reading and research. Your final paper will propose a significant claim, develop complex ideas, analyze textual evidence, and properly cite "secondary sources" (that is, ideas from other studies). This course is designed to strengthen your skills as a critical reader, a critical thinker, and as a persuasive, intellectual writer, whether the topic be medieval or contemporary.
Finally, the class should prove to be a rewarding introduction to medieval and Renaissance works that have influenced our culture for hundreds of years as well as a catalyst to provoke our thinking about how these works, and the intellectual ideas upon which they rest, reverberate in our twenty-first-century culture. How do our ideas about the East affect our attitudes, national policy, and narratives?
Annotation of Boethius, Book One, pgs 3-7.
Six response papers, approximately one-page, typed, single-spaced. Each response must include a critical question about the work AND at least one brief quote from the text to make your point. At term end, place your response papers in a folder and write a one-to-two page cover letter addressing your experience as a reader of medieval and renaissance texts.
Scribal Experience. Hand-copy one passage from one of our texts. Address a critical question about the passage and reflect on the process of manuscript transmission.
Annotated Bibliography. A brief annotation (summary) of one book, one scholarly article, one on-line scholarly article, and one book review. This assignment will help you prepare your final paper.
One final paper, approximately six pages, on a topic you develop over the course of the term.
In addition, there will be three in-class "quizzes" consisting of a single question on a text for which you are not writing a response paper.
In-class grade: 60%. Participation (10%), Response Papers (20%),
Annotation and Response Paper Cover Letter (10%), Five Quiz-Questions
Scribal Experience (10%). Participation grade is based on discussion in
class as well as leadership and participation in the small groups. Small
group discussion will form an important part of our class work.