Undergraduate English Courses

358:309 Medieval Lives

01  MW4  CAC  17679   O'BYRNE HH-A1

Medieval Lives

After committing genocide in Bosnia, a Hungarian soldier travels to Ireland seeking absolution. Fleeing her would-be rapist, a young woman finds shelter in a radical commune. A former slave returns to the place of his enslavement to institute change. A banker in desperate financial straits contemplates his next move. After a nervous breakdown, a young bureaucrat tries to reintegrate into the society that rejected him. These are not tales from the recent past, but the stories of individuals recorded in medieval biography, autobiography, memoir, and hagiography. By reading medieval texts, students will consider such things as diversity of literary expression, relationships between subject, author, and readers, reasons for writing biographies, the means of their "publication" and dissemination, and common structures and tropes of medieval biographies, including how authors molded them to suit political, religious, and personal goals. Notions of identity, religious expression, and the relationship of the individual to society will be explored. By the end of the course, students will be able to talk about different types of medieval biography, and they will have developed methods for critiquing biography from any time period. The close reading, analytic, and writing skills learned in earlier courses will be further developed.

Assessment
Attendance and in-class quizzes and assignments:
10% each for participation, quizzes, and group research report, totaling 30%
1-2 page article summary 5%
Essay draft: 2 polished paragraphs and an outline of the rest 10%
Peer review of essay drafts of 2 classmates 5%
6-7 page essay 20%
2 exams 15% each, totaling 30%