Section Information for Spring 2017
Since the Middle English (ME) period is not just a way station between those two Williams (of Normandy and of Stratford), this course will examine some major exemplars of non-Chaucerian ME literature, especially verse, romance, and drama. This course is designed for English majors who have not taken an intensive survey of Middle English literature and anyone who wishes to study the richness of our language and literature in one of its earliest moments.
Our consideration of lyric and drama will consider secular and with religous aspects, as well as the occasional overlap between them; two of our plays, the YorkNoah, and the Wakefield Second Shepherd's Play (to be performed November-December, 2016 at the Folger) show a masterful use of humor, as well. Concluding our survey will be a reading the Pearl (our most beautiful visionary verse) , and a selection of Sir Thomas Malory's retellings from the Arthurian legend.
All work will be read in Middle English using texts with abundant marginal glosses; our work with lyric will serve to familiarize readers with ME spellings.
Come prepared for much discussion, reading aloud, and close analysis. Two short essays, a mid-term examination, and two longer 4-5 pp. papers, and a final examination.
Selected English narrative, dramatic, and homiletic literature written between 1300 and 1500, exclusive of Chaucer.