English | Middle English Literature
L613 | 27021 | Ingham


9:30a – 10:45p TR

TOPIC: ROMANCING TROY: TRAUMA, SACRIFICE, AND HISTORY IN ME
LITERATURE

Throughout the Middle Ages various Europeans took pains to identify
themselves as the heirs of Trojan greatness, from Geoffrey of
Monmouth’s 12th century Virgilian treatment of the insular
foundation myth of the legendary Brutus in the Historia regum
Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), through (and beyond)
Chaucer’s magnificent meditation on war, loss, and love in Troilus
and Criseyde in the late 14th.  In deploying the story of Troy as
Europe’s heritage, medieval authors imagine historical precedent
through a narrative of loss, traumatic sacrifice, and survival.
Taking a sampling of treatments of Troy as our focus, this course
will interrogate the fascination with traumatic history (told, not
coincidentally, from the p.o.v. of the losers) in medieval Europe,
asking what it can tell us about the structures of loss and
sacrifice embedded within both medieval historical imagination, and
(perhaps) our own imagination of the medieval.

The goals of this course will be two-fold: 1) to offer an overview
of British Medieval romance on Troy from the twelfth to the
fifteenth centuries, including attention to the fascination with
Troy evinced by 15th century Scottish (particularly Henryson and
Dunbar) and 12th century Welsh (particularly Monmouth and the
redactors of the Welsh version of his Historia, the Brut Y
Brenhinedd) writers; 2) to offer a larger historiographic
consideration of the relation of history to fantasy, romance, loss,
sacrifice, treason, and traumatic survival.  Our readings thus may
include the writings of theorists such as Caruff, Deleuze, Foucault,
de Certeau, Bataille, Bloch, Lacan, Rubin, Irigaray, Zizek, and
Marcuse.

Texts to be read may include: Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the
Kings of Britain (in translation); Brut Y Brenhinedd  (excerpts, in
translation); Benoït de Ste Maure's Roman de Troie; Boccaccio’s
Filostrato; Chaucer’s Troilus and Creseyde; Saint Erkenwald;
selections from John Lydgate’s Troy Book; selections from John
Gower’s Confessio amantis; Henryson’s Testament of Cressid; selected
poetry by Dunbar. Middle English texts will be read in Middle
English, though no previous experience with Middle English is
expected. Italian, French and Latin texts will be read in English
translation.

Requirements: 1) Regular attendance, and active participation in
seminar discussion; 2) Two short written ‘exercises’ engaging a text
from the course bibliography; 3) a conference-style (10 page) final
paper, both in draft and revised form.

I am open to your suggestions about the course material. If you have
questions, suggestions or other interests, feel free to contact me
via email: pingham@indiana.edu.