Honors | Medieval Epic (CMLT)
C200 | 31230 | Jeffrey Johnson


MW 4:00-5:15pm
SY 002

The face of a god; men eaten alive in their sleep; a woman at the
head of an army of corpses: if you haven't seen any of these lately,
it's time for medieval epic. The Middle Ages brought fundamental
and lasting changes to epic poetry and to the heroic characters that
populated its verses. Medieval poets infused new life into legends
from ancient Rome and Greece and transformed their own cultures,
histories, and religions into epic material, leaving a rich legacy
for the poets of the Renaissance and later ages. These poems
included the most popular figures of the day and the most
sophisticated contemplations of the human mind. Our texts encompass
a broad spectrum of narrative styles, subject matter, and verse
forms. Ranging from roughly 1000 to 1321, we will be reading
Beowulf, Walter of Chatillon's Alexandreis, The Song of Roland,
Wolfram von Eschenbach's Willehalm, and Dante's Paradiso. These
poems offer us differing definitions of heroism, sharply contrasting
views of the European Crusades, and diverse visions of the human
condition. The course will include an introduction to ancient, late
antique, and early Christian epics and their impact on medieval
literature. Our texts represent literary developments in England,
France, Germany, and Italy. The scope of the course welcomes
students interested in literature, history, religious studies,
political science, philosophy, and cultural studies. Assignments
will consist of two essays, a final exam, in-class presentations,
and brief writing assignments. This course is designed for students
in the Hutton Honors College; however, interested students outside
the Honors College may contact the instructor to see if they qualify
for admission. There are no prerequisites for this course. For
further information: jwjohnso@indiana.