Comparative Literature | Medieval Literature
C523 | 14901 | R. McGerr
Meets TR 11:15 am -12:30 pm
Class meets with MEST-M502
This course explores the rich tradition of texts authored by women
during the Middle Ages in Europe. Our primary readings come from
the ninth through fifteenth centuries and were written in France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and England, some in Latin
and some in vernacular languages. The readings include secular and
spiritual texts from a wide range of genres: lyrics, plays, letters,
vision accounts, romance narratives, allegorical narratives, and
autobiography. The list of authors includes "saints"
and "heretics," members of royal courts and members of the merchant
class, mothers and nuns. In each case, we will examine the text
from multiple perspectives. Among the issues we will address are
the position of medieval women in relation to literary, civic, and
theological authority; the role of literacy in medieval definitions
of authorship; the treatment of gender within the individual texts;
and the relationship of medieval women's texts to modern conceptions
of feminist writing.
Our readings will include works by Dhuoda of Semptimania, Hrotsvit
von Gandersheim, Marie de France, Hildegard von Bingen, Heloise, the
trobairitz, Hadewijch of Brabant, Catherine of Siena, Julian of
Norwich, Christine de Pizan, Margery Kempe, and Florencia Pinar.
Students will each lead two class discussions, 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.