E301 1957 LINDENBAUM S
Literatures in English to 1600

1:00p-2:15p MW (30) 3 cr.

OPEN TO MAJORS ONLY. DECLARED MINORS OBTAIN AUTHORIZATION FROM BH402.

TOPIC: HEROES AND MONSTERS

This version of E301 is less a survey than a sampling of the very "best" stories and poems from the early period of English literature. It will mainly be a discussion class, but the instructor will sometimes give brief presentations (on medieval women, popular religion, etc.) in connection with the texts.

Although our texts will have a lot of variety, certain material will repeatedly appear: most importantly, the diabolical creatures, monsters, and unruly women who challenge the patriarchal social order in the world of legend. We will be concerned with the threats in the actual world which these strange creatures represent, and the literary strategies used to bring "unnatural" creatures under control. One way of controlling monsters, of course, is to send a heroic figure out to destroy them, and we'll pay special attention to these heroic figures -- male and female -- and the socializing impulses they embody.

Students will be expected to be active participants in the course. There will be frequent "response statements" (one-page commentaries on email) as well as the formal assignments: two papers, a midterm, and a final.

Texts will include: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, selections from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Book of Margery Kempe, lives of female saints, selections from Malory's Morte D'Arthur, Elizabethan love sonnets, and Book I of The Faerie Queene.