Medieval Studies | Medieval Literature: Words and Images in Dialogue
M502 | 14966 | McGerr R


Medieval Literature:  Words and Images in Dialogue
TR 1:00 – 2:15
Class meets with CMLT-C 523

The interplay of visual and verbal texts provides an important locus
of signification in medieval European reading experiences.  Verbal
texts in medieval manuscripts often appear with illustrations, while
quotations from verbal texts often appear in medieval visual works of
art, such as paintings, carvings, and sculptures.  Passages of
ekphrasis within verbal texts can create virtual visual texts for
readers.  A special category of hybrid text is the carmen figuratum or
poem that creates meaning through both visual and verbal texts.  In
this seminar, we will examine examples from medieval Europe of these
different forms of dialogue between words and images, in order to gain
deeper understanding of the frames of reference involved in medieval
textual experiences.  Our primary readings (all available in English
translation) will include Liber de laudibus sanctae crucis
(selections) by Hrabanus Maurus, Yvain by Chrétien de Troyes, Cantigas
de Santa Maria (selections) by Alphonso X of Spain, Le Roman de la
Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, the Commedia by Dante,
the “Manesse Codex” of Middle High German courtly lyric (selections),
and Le Livre de la Cité des Dames by Christine de Pizan.  Secondary
readings will include scholarly commentary by Jonathan Alexander,
Keith Busby, Michael Camille, Mary Carruthers, Madeline Caviness,
Sandra Hindman, Sylvia Huot, Suzanne Lewis, Margaret Manion, James
Rushing, and Elizabeth Sears.

Students will prepare two short class presentations (1-2 pages each),
one on a primary reading and one on a secondary reading.  Students
will also choose a comparative topic for a research project on a topic
related to the course readings, submit a project proposal with
preliminary bibliography (2-3 pages), and complete the written
research project (20-22 pages) at the end of the semester.