Fall 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:309 Cultural Geographies of Medieval Literature

01  CAC  Hybrid in person T 1:00-2:20 pm   CRUZ   SC-203
                  Online               TH 1:00-2:20 pm

Cultural Geographies of Medieval Literature

When we think of islands, we often think of getaway vacations and "being away from it all"; of distinction, of separateness, and of isolation. However, the British Isles in the Middle Ages were anything but isolated from the rest of the premodern world. Successive invasions by foreign powers profoundly shaped the early English historical imagination; cultural contacts between disparate regions in the British Isles produced ideas of cultural specificity as bounded by differences between peoples; further, the circulation of continental courtly literature, such as the French lais, complicated the notion of a "pure" source of English cultural heritage. This course will explore the interplay of space, place, and region in the medieval literary imagination: we will read travel, frontier, and romance narratives, considering the relationship of the geographic margins to the cultural center, as well as the place of medieval literature in a premodern global context. Primary texts will include works by the Beowulf Poet, the Pearl Poet, and Sir Thomas Malory, including selected works by Geoffrey of Monmouth, Marie de France, Margery Kempe, Sir John Mandeville, and John Gower. Secondary readings will include selected essays by Geraldine Heng, Edward Said, Carolyn Dinshaw, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Eric Weiskott, Candace Barrington, and Jonathan Hsy. Knowledge of Old and Middle English is not a prerequisite for this course."