Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Animals, Saints, and Monsters in the Middle Ages: Spring 2011 Version

Brooklyn College starts its Spring semester in two weeks. For those of you already teaching, you have my sympathy, which I expect will be returned to me (with interest?) in the last week of May, when my Spring will have done with me. Today's task? Retool my graduate "Animals, Saints, and Monsters" course. Last year's version is here.

In the spirit of sharing Spring courses (see Jeffrey, here, and Eileen, here, especially if you want to see who I'm ripping off):

This time around, in response to student complaints that I was teaching too many things, I'm dropping, among other texts, Yvain and Guillaume de Palerne, the first because I'd rather spend half a semester on it, and the second because of its price and because so much of it tends to all-too-familiar medieval battle scenes, perhaps interesting to my students but dull, dull, dull to me. I also dropped Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini, because I very much want to teach it with Timothy Morton's The Ecological Thought, and because I don't feel comfortable assigning my students a $40 hardcover that runs less than 200 pages. I'll teach the Vita again when Morton comes out in paperback.

In response to student requests for, I kid you not, more werewolves, I'm providing just that (thank you, Liverpool Online Series: Critical Editions of French Texts). I'm keeping the Melusine legend from Geoffrey of Auxerre, adding in Chaucer and Marie de France (because, well, I just should teach canonical texts from time to time) and, as well, Raymon Llull's fables because they're good...and because I don't think my students want to finish their semester by fighting through Henryson's Middle Scots, despite Henryson's highly peculiar sympathy for the violence he has his fable figures suffer (for a tantalizing discussion of this, see Jill Mann, From Aesop to Reynard); see lines 1874-1880.

The schedule follows:
  • Introduction: Background to the Middle Ages and Critical Animal Theory; “The Wolf Child of Hesse,” from The Chronicle of Saint Peter of Erfurt
  • Critical Animal Theory: Foundations: Jacques Derrida, “And Say the Animal Responded?” The Animal That Therefore I am, 119-40; Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience,” Écrits, 3-9; Genesis Chapters 1-3; Psalms 73:12-17 (DRV)
  • Critical Animal Theory: Foundations II: Judith Butler, “Introduction: Precarious Life, Grievable Life,” Frames of War, 1-32; 'Canis Legend' from Killis Campbell, ed., The Seven Sages of Rome, lxxviii-lxxxii, 26-32, ll. 775-944, Sidney Herrtage, ed., Early English Versions of the Gesta Romanorum, 98-99, “The Queen of France and the Unfaithful Husband” (from Medieval German Tales in English Translation), and Stephen of Bourbon, on “St. Guinefort,” from De Superstitione
  • Critical Animal Theory: Foundations III: Donna J. Haraway, “When Species Meet: Introductions,” When Species Meet, 3-42; Marie de France, Lays, “Bisclavret”
  • Monsters: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” Monster Theory: Reading Culture, 3-25; Melion and Biclarel
  • Monsters II: Luce Irigaray, “This Sex which is Not One,” This Sex which is Not One, 23-33; Ovid, Heroides XIV, “Hypermnestra to Lynceus”; Ruth Evans, “Gigantic Origins: An Annotated Translation of De Origine Gigantum,” Arthurian Literature 16 (1998): 197-211
  • Monsters III: Geoffrey of Auxerre, On the Apocalypse, Joseph Gibbons, trans., 139-57; Gerald of Wales, History and Topography of Ireland, John O'Meara trans., 69-77; Ratramnus of Corbie's “Letter on the Cynocephali” (from Paul Edward Dutton, trans., Carolingian Civilization: A Reader, 2nd Ed., 452-55); Cursor Mundi on the “Conversion of Monsters,” lines 8069-8132
  • Inventing with Animals: Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Inventing with Animals in the Middle Ages,” Engaging with Nature, 39-62; Marie de France, Lays, “Guigemar,” “Yonec,” “Laüstic,” "Milun,” and the anonymous “Lay of Tyrolet”
  • Into the Wild I: The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, 43-115; Vibrant Matter, i-62
  • Into the Wild II: The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, 116-190; Vibrant Matter, 63-finish
  • Talking Animals: Susan Crane, “For the Birds,” Studies in the Age of Chaucer 29 (2007): 23-41; Geoffrey Chaucer, “The Parliament of Fowls”
  • Saints: The Little Flowers of St Francis
  • Talking Animals II: The Owl and the Nightingale; Monica Brzezinski Potkay, “Natural Law in 'The Owl and the Nightingale,'” The Chaucer Review 28.4 (1994): 368-83
  • Talking Animals III: Raymon Llull, “The Book of the Beasts”
  • Review: Cary Wolfe, “Human, All Too Human: 'Animal Studies' and the Humanities” PMLA 124.2 (2009): 564-75; Bruce Holsinger, “Of Pigs and Parchment: Medieval Studies and the Coming of the Animal,” PMLA 124.2 (2009): 616-23: Lynn White, Jr., “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155.3767 (1967): 1203-1207.
(image, f 28r, from here, Robbins MS 005)


Mary Kate Hurley said...

All of the syllabi you guys keep posting here are making me long to return to teaching -- another reason I can't wait to be done with this dissertation!

I'll be interested to hear how the werewolves segment goes -- in one of the many syllabi I've had to create for the job market and post-doc applications, I put together a similar segment geared toward undergrads -- less theory-oriented for the obvious reasons, but including Bisclavret, Biclaret and Melion.

Karl Steel said...

was that an aspirational syllabus? if not, how'd you teach Biclaret and Melion? I've never read them, but the free pdf, top-notch edition is too good to pass up.