Graduate Course Description

350:612 - Theorizing Gender Before 1500

Course No: 350:612
Index # - 20491
Distribution Requirement: A1, C
Monday - 9:00 a.m.
MU 207

Theorizing Gender Before 1500

Stacy Klein

This course will explore issues and questions generated by two developments in medieval studies: the increasingly central position of gender as a topic for critical analysis, and the use of contemporary theory as a means to explore the past. We will be concerned to trace out how medievalists have both used and produced theories that touch on gender, to examine fundamental changes in public attitudes toward gender from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries, and to develop a variety of working models for theorizing gender in medieval texts.

We will focus many of our primary readings on hagiography and romance—two extremely popular genres of medieval writing. Both genres foreground gender, gendered bodies, sexuality, marriage, and family within highly formulaic and yet historically particularized narrative structures, and thus offer rich ground for mediating between theoretical issues and the claims of a particular historical period. Brief tours of Old English poetry and later medieval visionary literature will offer additional perspectives on gender, as well as primary materials for theorizing gender. Throughout the course, we will read theoretical texts and examine analyses of gender from a variety of disciplines, including archaeology, linguistics, environmental humanities, art history, animal studies, French, and material culture. This course requires no prior experience in medieval literature and will provide a solid foundation for students who may be asked to teach medieval texts at some point in their careers. All texts will be available in modern English translation. However, some course time will be reserved for increasing students’ facility with Old and Middle English.

Requirements: two short papers (10 pp. each) or one longer paper (20-25 pp.), attendance, participation, and brief class presentations