Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

Course No:  350:531
Index # - 12539
Distribution Requirement:  A1
Monday - 9:50 a.m. 
MU 207

Medieval Childhood & Human Development 

Stacy Klein

This seminar surveys childhood, parenting, and human development in medieval writings composed from the fifth through the fifteenth century. We will consider medieval “children's literature,” textual accounts of child oblation and baptism, genealogies and ancestral records, family structures and domestic spaces (both monastic and secular), medical texts dealing with conception, birth and nursing, foster-parenting as undertaken by animals and humans in medieval romance, hagiographical accounts of child martyrs, textual and archaeological records of infant mortality and child burials, and imaginative efforts to depict youth, adolescence, and smallness in medieval poetry. Throughout the course we will question the extent to which childhood and adolescence were recognized in the Middle Ages as distinct stages of human life and also examine popular tendencies to infantilize both the Middle Ages and its literature. Readings may include Avianus’s Fables, Augustine's Confessions, Beowulf, Asser’s Life of Alfred, Ælfric's Colloquy on the Occupations, Havelock the Dane, select Canterbury Tales, Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe, the “ABC of Aristotle,” Pearl, Sir Gowther, and medieval Marian plays, as well as essays on medieval childhood from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including archaeology, history, literature, material culture, and art history.

Medieval Literature for Children, ed. Daniel Kline (Routledge, 2003); ISBN-13: 978-0815333128.
• Augustine, Confessions: Books I-Xiii, ed. Foley, trans. Sheed, with intro by Peter Brown (Hackett Publishing Company), ISBN-10: 0872208168
• R. M. Liuzza, Beowulf: Facing Page Translation, 2nd edition (Broadview Press, 2012) ISBN-10: 1554811139; ISBN-13: 978-1554811137
Alfred the Great: Asser’s Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources, trans. Simon Keynes and Michael Lapidge (Penguin); ISBN-10: 0140444092
Pearl, ed. Sarah Stanbury, TEAMS (Western Michigan University, 2001); ISBN-13: 978-1580440332
Four Romances of England: King Horn, Havelok the Dane, Bevis of Hampton, Athelston, ed. Ronald B Herzman, Graham Drake Eve Salisbury TEAMS (Western Michigan University, 1999); ISBN-10: 1580440177
The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry Benson, 3rd revised ed. Oxford UP, 2008); ISBN-10: 0199552096
• Barbara Hanawalt, Growing Up in Medieval London (Oxford UP, 1993); ISBN-13: 978-0195093841

This course requires no previous background in medieval literature and will provide a solid foundation for students who may be asked to teach medieval texts at some point in their career. Texts will be available in Modern English translation. However, some course time will be reserved for introducing students to (or increasing their facility with) Old and Middle English.

Requirements: two short papers (8-10 pp. each) or one longer paper (16-20 pp.), attendance, participation, and brief class presentations. 

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