This course will explore the prose and poetry produced in English throughout the medieval period, between the Anglo-Saxon Conquest and the start of the English Renaissance. Such texts were written in Old English (through the 11th century) and in Middle English (from the 12th through 15th centuries). We will read the Old English texts in translation, while some of the Middle English texts (those written in the most approachable dialects) will be read in the original.
Because this is essentially a “survey” course (which by design excludes Chaucer), we will study texts selected to represent the range of interests exhibited in the literature of the period (recognizing that such a selection cannot be exhaustive) and reflecting medieval writers’ and audiences’ use of the vernacular to express ideas and concerns about spiritual and secular matters.
In addition to the literary texts, the course includes some required secondary texts. We will be reading these throughout the semester, as appropriate to our primary readings.