ENGH 421: Topics in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

ENGH 421-001: Memory and Identity in the Middle Ages
(Fall 2022)

01:30 PM to 02:45 PM TR

Horizon Hall 4008

Section Information for Fall 2022

ENGH 421 - 001: Memory and Identity in the Middle Ages

‘Our memories make us who we are’ is a common saying in modern American culture. In other words, memories define our individuality and shape our identities. But ‘memory’ or ‘memoria’ meant something different in the Middle Ages. It was a craft, a learned skill, a specific method of breaking down information into manageable pieces, and then storing those pieces within mental images, like palaces or angel wings. Medieval memory practices were designed to remove error, but in so doing, they remove individuality as well.


This course will investigate the relationship between memory and identity in medieval literature. We will learn about the medieval craft of memory (including how to practice some of its techniques!), and we will examine how medieval authors use this craft in their writing. But we will also read medieval memoirs, lyric poems, letters, and histories, to analyze the connections that medieval writers make between individual and collective memories, and between personal and cultural identity. How do individuals relate to their memories? How does memory create both individual and group identities? And how do individuals and groups use cultural memories to preserve those identities? Through these readings, we will interrogate our assumptions about how we remember and write about our personal and collective pasts. Assignments will include papers, a presentation, and a final project using medieval mnemonic techniques.


Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Studies selected topics, genres, themes or authors in medieval or Renaissance literature and culture. Notes: May be taken for credit by English or history majors. Specific topic may vary. Primary emphasis is literary or historical, depending on discipline of instructor. May consider relevant material from philosophy, theology, and art. May be repeated when topic is different. Equivalent to FRLN 431.
Specialized Designation: Mason Impact., Topic Varies
Recommended Prerequisite: Satisfaction of University requirements in 100-level English and in Mason Core literature.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.