The Medieval Period, or the Middle Ages, occurred between the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the European Renaissance. In many ways, these “middle times” separate the ancient from the modern world, and although the Renaissance is traditionally touted as a period of particularly explosive creativity and cultural rebirth, we will discover that art and literature flourished in the Middle Ages as well.
This survey course has been designed in order to introduce students to the very origins of literary expression in the English language. We will identify and examine the forms, genres, literary conventions, and topics of concern that typify medieval literature. Because all literary works are intertextual to some degree, we will begin to recognize the many relationships and discursive practices that these works share with other texts across centuries and around the globe.
In recognition of the vast time range and large amount of material to be covered, this course will approach literature as a product of specific historical and cultural circumstances. To foster this understanding, our course has been divided into three chronological units: Anglo-Saxon England and Old English poetry; Anglo-Norman England and the Romances; and Middle English Literature. At the outset of each section, we will explore the historical and cultural background of the period, and then we will read a set of representative texts.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
Situate the literature of the Medieval period within its historical context, particularly in relation to the development of Christian culture;
Explain the relevance of central themes in Medieval texts, including those relating to economic, social, and religious issues;
Recognize and identify the different genres in which Medieval writers worked and explain these genres relate to one another both historically and stylistically;
Identify the stylistic and formal elements of Medieval poetry and prose;
Define and use important literary terms related to major works of the Medieval period;
Trace the evolution of language (Old, Middle, and New English) within the context of Medieval literature;
Describe the literature of the period as a product of oral culture;
Identify and describe the alliterative line.
More info: http://www.saylor.org/courses/engl201/