College Of Arts And Sciences | Chivalry: Medieval Visions of Good and Evil
E103 | 0057 | Wailes, S.


Medieval stories of knights and ladies embody the system of behavior
and values that is known as "chivalry." These stories create a
fantastic mixture of the real and imaginary, appealing to interest in
history, myth, sex, love, religion, political thought, and most of
all to the love of a good tale. They can bewilder the modern reader,
however, who may not understand at first why knights seem so
dependent on the good opinion of others for self-respect
(medieval "honor" is not the same as the modern concept) and why
ladies are content to be fought over, carried off, and rescued
without ever seeming to direct their own lives. In this course we
will learn the kinds of questions to ask of chivalric stories to
allow them to speak with the subtlety and depth they possess, and we
will read love songs of the troubadours or court minstrels for
further insights into the values of the medieval nobility.

The course will meet twice a week for lectures and once for
discussions. Before each discussion, students will hand in their one-
page, written responses to a central question on the week’s reading.
These responses will form the framework for the following discussion.
There will be two 3-5 page papers in which one of the weekly
questions is examined at greater length, and a final exam consisting
of two essays on topics from a list distributed at the start of the
course. The final grade will be determined by these weighted factors:
active participation in discussions, 20%; average grade on submitted
responses (two lowest grades dropped), 30%; two 3-5 page papers, 25%;
and final exam, 25%.