1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Medieval Literature


  • ENMD 8559 Medieval Romance

    0930-1045 TR - McLEOD 2006

    Instructor: Claire Waters

    This course looks at romances and lais in English and French (the latter in translation as needed), from Great Britain and the continent; the emphasis will be on what Helen Cooper calls “the English romance in time”—that is, repeated motifs that became part of the mental vocabulary of late-medieval and early-modern readers of this hugely popular genre—but also on “the English romance in space,” that is, the way in which roman, an Anglo-French invention, helps us to see the intertwined fates of France and England in this period, and some early versions of British or English national mythology. We will also consider how romances and lais served to establish, explore, and challenge other kinds of boundaries than the national, including those of gender, language, species, and the sacred.

    Consistent participation in class discussion is of course expected; written assignments will include six short response papers (2–3 pages) and a seminar paper of 15–20 pages, submitted in draft and in final form.

    Likely primary texts:
    Wace, Roman de Brut
    Chrétien de Troyes, Erec and Enide, Yvain, The Story of the Grail (Perceval) Amis and Amiloun and Amis and Amile
    Havelok the Dane
    Marie de France, Lais
    Heldris of Cornwall, Roman de Silence
    Sir Orfeo
    Thomas Chestre, Sir Launfal Sir Gowther
    Chaucer, Knight’s Tale, Franklin’s Tale, Man of Law’s Tale, Wife of Bath’s Tale

  • ENMD 8850 Mapping the Middle Ages

    1700-1815 MW - PAVILION VIII, 108

    Instructor: A.C. Spearing

    Using as its focus a selection of major literary texts and some important scholarly and theoretical works, this course will explore the cultural, intellectual and spiritual climates of “the Middle Ages”, and will aim to develop a conceptual framework for study of this seminal period in
    Western civilization. The approach will be both cross-disciplinary and transnational. The topics to be explored, through the lens of artistic masterpieces produced in England and continental Europe, will include: the Middle Ages as a theoretical and critical construct; varieties of love; epic and romance; other worlds; allegory; and regional culture (late-medieval East Anglia). Medieval English verse texts will be read in the original, most others in translation. Requirements: an oral presentation, two papers, a final exam.