Medieval Studies
Pre-Approved Courses for Fall 2019

(All courses are taught in English unless otherwise specified)

Art History

Art-Hist 100 - Survey: Ancient-Medieval Art - Multiple Sections. See Course Guide.

First half of a survey of art history from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Chronological and systematic approach; either a basis for more detailed study of individual periods in upper-level art history courses, or a solid general foundation for a heightened appreciation of the heritage of art. More professionally oriented than ART-HIST 115. Background for upper-level art history courses; required of majors. (Gen. Ed. AT, DG)

Comparative Literature

Prof. Jessica Barr
Comp Lit 391V: Dreams, Visions and the Supernatural - MW 2:30-3:45

Ghosts, apparitions, and messengers from the beyond play an active role in the literary imagination. From religious visions to dream analysis, from medieval werewolves to psychological thrillers, literature of the supernatural pushes us to rethink what we know and how we know it. This course pairs medieval and modern literature to investigate the ways in which these tropes have been used to challenge us to see — and think — differently. We will read works by various medieval writers, such as Marie de France, Hildegard of Bingen, and Chaucer, and stories and novels by modern writers including Gogol, Cixous, Mann and Calvino.

Prof. Maria Tymoczko
Comp Lit 397W: Medieval British Literatures: Readings in Britain's Four Medieval Literatures - TuTh 1:00-2:15

This discussion course is a comparative introduction to the development of English literature based on an examination of British Isles texts from the five major vernacular literatures that flourished in England before the end of the Hundred Years War: Welsh, Irish, English, Norse, and French. The texts are classics involving the old Celtic gods, heroes, love tales, adventure, and more. They include comedy and tragedy, origin tales, romances, and moral investigations. We will explore the proposition that this diverse set of literary and linguistic roots is a major reason that English literate is one of the most diverse of the major world literatures at present, tolerant of immense variation in dialects and forms.

English

Prof. Steve Harris
English 313: Old English - TuTh 10:00-11:15

Old English is a language spoken in Britain from the early 400s to the 1100s. In this course, you will learn to read it. It will give you a good grounding in English grammar as well as a solid sense of the origin of English vocabulary. Once you can read Old English, you are only steps away from reading Old Norse, the language of the Vikings, as well as Old Saxon and Old Frisian. As well as learning the Old English language, we will read Old English poetry, including “Caedmon’s Hymn,” “The Seafarer,” “The Wanderer,” “Dream of the Rood,” “The Battle of Maldon,” and the epic Judith, about a warrior maiden who leads her army to heroic conquest (“Sloh tha wundenlocc thone feondsceathan fagum mece ...”). It is like no other poetry in English. Reading it in the original language allows you to practice intense close reading, an essential component of a literary education. You will also be introduced to Norse and Celtic myths. Old English inspired J. R. R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It inspired Seamus Heaney’s North as well as his Beowulf. And it was a profound influence on Jorge Luis Borges. We will examine runes and learn to make manuscripts. A working knowledge of English grammar is recommended.

Prof. Jenny Adams
English 416: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales - TuTh 10:00-11:15

In this course we will work together to read Geoffrey Chaucer’s most famous poem, The Canterbury Tales. A poem that frustrated the Romantic poets, inspired T.S. Eliot, and baffled cinematographers, this masterpiece continues to frustrate, inspire, and baffle contemporary readers, who are drawn in by its spicy stories yet put off by its difficult language. We will read slowly through the poem so that we can work to grasp Chaucer’s subtle complexities. We will also read more broadly in order to place the Canterbury Tales in the context of Chaucer’s other works and also in the context of late fourteenth-century literary culture. Assignments for the class will include two papers, a midterm, a final exam, and the creation of your own Canterbury Tale.

Prof. Ingrid Nelson, Amherst College
ENGL 332-01: Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales - TuTh 2:30-3:50

Geoffrey Chaucer’s medieval masterwork, The Canterbury Tales, represents pilgrims from all walks of life, from peasants to artisans to nobility, telling tales that are comical, tragic, religious, and fantastical. In this course, we read almost the entirety of the Tales in its original language. The course aims to give the student rapid mastery of Chaucer’s English and an active appreciation of his poetry. Our focus will be on Chaucer’s poetry and the ethical and political questions this complex and delightful literary work raises, and how we can understand these questions within a modern context. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected, although a knowledge of grammar in English or another Western language will be helpful.

French

Prof. Philippe Baillargeon
Frenchst 424 - Renaissance Prose - Tu 4:00-6:30

Geoffrey Chaucer’s medieval masterwork, The Canterbury Tales, represents pilgrims from all walks of life, from peasants to artisans to nobility, telling tales that are comical, tragic, religious, and fantastical. In this course, we read almost the entirety of the Tales in its original language. The course aims to give the student rapid mastery of Chaucer’s English and an active appreciation of his poetry. Our focus will be on Chaucer’s poetry and the ethical and political questions this complex and delightful literary work raises, and how we can understand these questions within a modern context. No prior knowledge of Middle English is expected, although a knowledge of grammar in English or another Western language will be helpful.

History

History 180 - Western Science and Tech - Multiple Sections. See Course Guide.

History 180 has two goals: first, to explore the ways in which science and technology have helped various Western societies make sense of, and manipulate, their worlds and themselves; and second, to appreciate how science and technology reflect their historical periods and contexts. History 180 explores the Greek fascination with modeling the cosmos and with the nature of formal scientific explanation; the assimilation and refinement of ancient Greek science in the Islamic world; the role of Scholasticism and the medieval university in the institutionalization of scientific thought; and the creation of a new quantitative framework of experience by Renaissance explorers, engineers, artisans, mathematicians, and natural philosophers.

Italian

Prof. Michael Papio
Italian 397V - Medieval Myths and Maps - TuTh 1:00-2:15

Everyone knows Marco Polo went to China, but few realize that his travel stories made almost no impact at all on Italian literature, culture or geography before the High Renaissance. What did medieval Italians really know about the world around them before Columbus “discovered” America? Through the literature, travel narratives and maps that were available at the birth of Humanism, students will explore two overlapping imaginary worlds: the Christian landscapes of places mentioned in the Bible (often embellished with highlights from Crusader lore and Pilgrim Guides), and the Classical Mediterranean, ubiquitous in Pliny’s geographical studies, the recently rediscovered Pomponius Mela and, of course, all the mythology of ancient Greece and Rome. Students will address urgent questions (Where did Odysseus sail? Are there really places where ants are as big as cows? What’s a Sciapod?) and will learn to use simple GIS to create interactive maps. Course counts toward Italian major and minor. (Course taught in English. Written assignments in Italian for Italian Majors.)

Japanese

Prof. Stephen Miller
Japanese 135 - Japanese Art and Culture - TuTh 2:30-3:45

Exploration of Japan’s secular and religious arts and their impact on gendered literary texts, such as early aristocratic women’s writings and medieval warrior epics. Films about the traditional theater, which influenced the culture of sexuality, and about the Zen-inspired art of the tea ceremony, which reflected political upheaval. Locating points of intersection between art and literature, religion and politics in modern Japan under Western influence. No prerequisites. (Gen.Ed. I, DG)

Scandinavian

Prof. Frank Hugus
Scandin 376 - Vikings and Their Stories: Saga Literature - TuTh 1:00-2:15

Students will read and discuss a representative sampling of both the famed Icelandic sagas and the legendary heroic sagas. All readings and discussions are in English. There are no pre-requisites. This course carries 4 credits and satisfies a General Education AL requirement.

Spanish and Portuguese

Prof. Albert Lloret
Spanish 320 - Literary Currents. Spain I: Fake News from the Premodern Hispanic World - MWF 1:25-2:15

This course offers an introductory survey to Premodern Spanish literature. We will read a selection of great texts as we also learn about how some of their stories, of the peoples and history of the Iberian Peninsula, have been put to a variety of political uses from long ago until the present. (Taught in Spanish.)