2017-2018 Catalog

ENGL 310 Medieval Literature

Examining death in the imaginative and meditative culture of the 14th and early 15th centuries, this seminar will introduce advanced students to a wide range of Middle English literature. No prior knowledge of Middle English or medieval literature required. We will contextualize our work by looking at religious, philosophical, and medical texts about death, yet our focus will be on scenes of death, burial, mourning, and memorial in literary texts by Chaucer, the Pearl Poet, Julian of Norwich, and others. Asking how we can construe the ethical and political imagination of the medieval English literary world, we will also consider larger issues related to the literary awareness of death: the representability of death; the political and generic function of consolation, tragedy, and elegy; death's relations to the sacred and the sovereign; the economics of death in the age of the plague; war and martyrdom; mourning and rebellion; dreams and the afterlife; gender, living, death, and anchoritism.


4 units


Any 100- or 200-level English course, or junior or senior standing

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus
  • Pre-1800