Sunday, January 13, 2008

Marking the Beginning of the Semester with a Medieval Roll Call

Just out of curiosity, and also to scare up commenting by readers not in the habit (for a reader in the habit, see image to the left (borrowed from here)): what medieval courses are you teaching (or taking) this academic term? If it's a generically titled course ("Medieval English Literature"), let us know some of its contents.

Me? I'm doing my first Canterbury Tales course, using the Fisher and Allen recommended by Rob Barrett in this post. Thanks Rob. I'm also trying out Andrew Galloway's Medieval Literature and Culture.

How about you?


Jeffrey Cohen said...

I am teaching a brand new course, "Myths of Britain." It's an introductory level, writing intensive course that stresses the transnational within the English. We read six texts veeeerrrryyyy sssslloowwllly, so it's meant to be an antidote to breathless surveys of Brit Lit. I'll post on it later this week.

Thanks for bringing the Galloway to my attention. I would have considered it for this course ...

Matthew Gabriele said...

I've got 2:

1) Freshman-level "Medieval World," which I'm building around the theme of "Encounters" -- Romans vs. Christians vs. Germans, Christians vs. Islam, Christians vs. themselves, Europe vs. New World

2) Senior-level seminar on "The Origins of Christian Religious Violence," which is kind of like an Origins of the Crusades course but with a bit different spin.

Dr. Virago said...

I think everyone here knows I'm teaching Chaucer and Middle English courses this semester, but I thought I'd say what I'm doing with them. In Chaucer I'm going back to trying to do a little of everything -- a few of the short poems to start the first week, then 2 dream visions (PF and BD), then the Troilus, and then selections of the Tales. I have a feeling we'll all be exhausted at the end of the semester, but I really wanted to teach the Troilus again. I go back and forth between this version of the class and another version in which I cut out the Troilus and do most of the Tales. I'm also stealing, er borrowing, JJC's ideas for writing assignments -- starting with translation and building to analysis and research -- and also throwing in an assignment in which students have to write an imitation of a Chaucerian dream vision (though in prose and modern English).

In Middle English, which is a cross-listed English/Linguistics course, I'm starting the semester with manuscripts and a little paleography -- just Anglicana scripts of the 14th and 15th centuries, just to give them an idea of the skill -- because, after all, our knowledge of ME comes from manuscripts, and why not teach students what the serious scholars have to know. And I'm using it also to talk about ideas of the book, authorship, translation (in a very broad sense), digital age and medieval humanities, and even intellectual property. And then we'll do the usual phonology, morphology, syntax, etc., of course. And we'll read and translate a number of texts and selections of texts, culminating in a project in which students have to propose an edition and translation of Sir Orfeo, with sample texts (one with glosses, one a translation) and a brief introduction as it might appear in an anthology of literature.

Eileen Joy said...

I will be repeating an interdisciplinary, team-taught [with Doug Simms, an expert in Germanic studies who teaches in our Foreign Languages department] "Lord of the Rings" and Medieval Heroic Poetry course, which Doug essentially designed. He handles "all things Tolkien and philology and Edda and Valkyrie" and I chime in with bits on Old English heroic and elegaic poetry and "The Song of Roland" [Merwin translation] and do various shticks on the themes of mutability, the warrior ethos, male-male chivalric bonding, etc. It's a very basic class in which we read the "Rings" trilogy and simply try to provide students with some insight into the medieval materials Tolkien appropriated for the novels. I hate the trilogy, but have to mainly keep that to myself.

But what I'm really excited about, teaching-wise, this semester, is something completely non-medieval: a senior-level course in contemporary fiction, which I am offering under the rubric of "fantastic/slipstream/realism" [I'll post on that next week in conjunction with some questions I have for everyone on the function of "the fantastic" in both medieval *and* contemporary literature].

Karl Steel said...

Thanks for the contributions so far, everyone; I'm finding this all very interesting. I'm very jealous of your courses Matthew G.: I'd love to teach both someday.

Eileen, I taught Roland with the Merwin trans last semester, but I think next time I'll use the Glyn Burgess (can I confess something? I think Glyn Burgess and Glenn Burger were the same person until, well, just about now). Why? Because it has the Old French as an appendix. Nice.

Looking forward to your forthcoming post EJ.

kentompkins said...

I am teaching our Senior Seminar this term; a delight that comes around about every two+ years. My reading here and elsewhere encouraged me to select Medieval monsters as the topic of the seminar and I have been struggling with the design since summer.

Our Senior Seminar is a capstone course -- each faculty chooses a topic or critical perspective -- the outcome of which is a 30 page research paper. Usually, faculty choose texts and critical/theoretical readings with which to view the primary texts. The students, then, choose a topic for their papers. I'm sure you all have taught similar courses.

I chose the topic because I'm at the end of my teaching career (42 years of full-time undergraduate teaching) and I wanted something totally new, something I knew almost nothing about, something that would push me on my heels. The topic has done just that. You have no idea how exciting and challenging the last six months have been.

Specifically, and I apologize for rambling, we will examine some basic texts on monsters, move in that context to medieval texts and then to more theoretical works. Of course, by next week when our term begins I may well have reorganized the whole thing yet once more.

Anonymous said...

Karl - in History I am teaching two undergraduate modules - a new module in comparative history on Utopias (Y3) and also a new module for Y2 (I am such a glutton!) called Dragons, Damsons and Dancing on popular culture in later medieval England.

I teach them both in the room where Robin Hood met the abbot of St Mary's.

The two classes run right after each other on a Monday and Friday, both are seminar modules, one has 15 students and the other 18 (all very strong and talkative). Both use primary sources of a variety of types within a critical context. I also do graduate teaching and supervision - and soon I will have a clutch of undergraduate dissertation drafts to supervise.

Karl Steel said...

Thanks again folks. Sarah, is your Utopias class doing anything with Cockaigne? I wonder if we can think of Second Life as a kind of anemic utopia....

Ken: that's fascinating, thank you. No rambling at all: if anything, I want to hear more.

theswain said...

I'm teaching an Intro to Lit but like Eileen am doing it "Tolkien/Medieval" style. We'll read Lord of the Rings, illustrated and frequently punctuated by various bits and pieces of Medieval literature...and not nearly so many selections as I would like (no Roland sadly, love that text, and not as much other material besides Old English as I would like). LoTR in 8 weeks plus The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, selections of Bede, selected Maxims and Riddles, Hildebrandslied, etc. The second 6 weeks (9-15) we read Beowulf and Finnsburh Fragment, OE Exodus, the Prose Edda, Tolkien's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Sir Orfeo, and Pearl, and The Aeneid. The last week we don't read anything, and we talk about Tolkien's influence,(Frodo Lives!) on the Counterculture etc.

It's not as good as Eileen's but I try to cover many of the same themes that she mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Yes we are touching briefly on Cockaigne in Utopias - and maybe slightly less briefly in the Dragons course. And yes - we will be having a class on digital utopias in which there may be some reference to Second Life. I haven't signed the class up to a second life experiment yet (because I wouldn't know how!) - but I am hoping to entice them into the experience of blogging through a class blog. No doubt you Americans do this all the time!!!