ENGLISH 702: Monsters and Medieval Identity
HYPERTEXT SYLLABUS WITH ELECTRONIC RESOURCES










The Columbian School Freshman Seminars are an initiative to offer first-year students the opportunity to engage in an intense intellectual experience.  Each seminar is limited to twenty students who will meet with their faculty member to discuss, research, and write about the seminar's topic -- a topic shaped by the faculty member to reflect an area of ongoing personal interest and research.  The seminar experience is for highly motivated students prepared to undertake a demanding workload.


 
 

Professor Jeffrey J. Cohen (jjcohen@gwu.edu)
Office Hours: Mondays 2-4, Rome Hall 763

What is the relationship between "monster" and "hero"? Are these categories really as different as they seem at first glance? Does what constitutes a "hero" change over time? How are these categories entwined in others, especially "race," "ethnicity" and "gender"?
 

Course Requirements: class attendance and active participation (every class you miss affects your grade; missing more than TWO classes means that you have failed the course); two midterm exams; weekly short writing assignments; an eight page paper; and a final exam.
 
 
General Electronic Resources for Medieval Studies

 

Schedule of Readings with Resource Clusters

8/23 Introduction: Myths of the Middle Ages

8/25 Beowulf: Beowulf and Grendel


8/30 Beowulf: Beowulf and the Dragon


9/1 The Voyage of St Brendan (in The Age of Bede)



9/6 LABOR DAY

9/8 Life of Cuthbert (in The Age of Bede)


9/13 Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain: Foundational Monsters


9/15 Gerald of Wales, Journey Through Wales



9/20 YOM KIPPUR (no class)

9/22 Writing Workshop
Bring ten copies of your opening paragraph to class for peer critique.
 
 
9/24 [Friday] Field Trip to National Cathedral
Meet at the West entrance at 10:30 AM. The website below has directions via Metro and maps. We'll be having lunch at a nearby restaurant and should be done by 1 PM.

9/27 Gerald of Wales, History and Topography of Ireland

9/29 Celtic Ireland
Follow the links below to stories archived at The Ulster Cycle web site and the readings for today's class:


10/4 The Song of Roland


10/6 "Saracens" and Crusading Documents
Required readings from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies and Internet Medieval Sourcebook.  In class we will attempt a view of the Crusades through the eyes of the Other:  Eastern Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

Recommended reading: Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes



10/11 COLUMBUS DAY

10/13 The Invention of Chivalry
There are no required readings for today's class. Sit back and enjoy a lecture on how the Middle Ages taught its most violent men to be nice. In-class readings from John of Salisbury, Peter of Blois, and Geoffroi de Charny.

10/18 Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight with the Lion, pp. 257-90
NOTE: All readings from Chretien de Troyes are found in the David Staines translation ordered for the class.
You should think seriously about an answer to the question, "What does the Giant Herdsman represent in the text?" (look especially closely at pp. 260-61)

10/20 Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight with the Lion, pp. 291-338
DUE TODAY: A two page reaction paper which answers the question: "What is the function of the lion in the text?" Think seriously about what the animal represents for Yvain's identity -- what does the knight learn from and through his leonine companion?

10/25 Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight of the Cart, pp. 170-216
If you become interested in the romance, a web site devoted to it can be found at:


10/27 [special pre-Halloween class]   Witches and Witch Hunts

Required readings from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies and Internet Medieval Sourcebook



11/1 Chrétien de Troyes, The Knight of the Cart, pp. 217-256

11/3 IN CLASS WRITING EXERCISE

11/8 Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval (The Story of the Grail), pp. 339-386

11/10 Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval (The Story of the Grail), pp. 387-449. Supplement: Terry Gilliam, The Fisher King (selection shown in class) 11/15 mandatory paper consultations (as scheduled in advance)

11/17 open paper consultations (drop-in hours, 12-2)

11/19 [Friday] PAPER DUE BY 5 PM under my office door (Rome 763)


11/22, 11/24 NO CLASS (Happy Thanksgiving)


11/29 Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain: Arthur (pp. 212-61)

12/1 Alliterative Morte Arthure (in King Arthur's Death)

12/6 Conclusions, review, course evaluation, and celebratory pizza

12/15 Final Examination