Chaucer (ENGL 322)
TR 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
We will read The Canterbury Tales with a focus on masculinity in the Middle Ages. Chaucer's poetry should be one of the high points of the English major, but many students avoid the course or dread it because Chaucer's works are read in Middle English rather than in translation. Most students quickly see that Chaucer was a remarkable writer and that translations cannot capture the magic of his language. Learning enough Middle English to handle Chaucer's poetry takes work, but in a few weeks most students' translation skills are up to the task. We will study the formation of masculinity in three contexts: the court (tales told by the Knight, the Wife of Bath, the Manciple); the working world (tales told by the Miller, Reeve, the Pardoner), and the world of education (tales told by the Man of Law and the Prioress). We will discuss other contexts and other tales as well. Requirements include class participation; a series of quizzes, weekly during the first half of the course weeks, two papers (one 6-7 pages, one 8-10 pages), and a mid-term and a final examination. Texts: The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry Benson, and other readings to be announced. At Beck's Books.
Honors Tutorial: Trauma, Masculinity, and Violence (ENGL 395)
[Prerequisite for ENGL 395 is permission] Section: 22W TR 10:00 am - 11:15 am
ENGL 390 18W is a writing intensive course.
Everyone one is familiar with trauma and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PSTD) but few people understand the controversies surrounding the emergence of these phenomena or their connections to the history of medicine and warfare. There are also few people who understand how memory works and how memory is thought to be related to trauma. We will take as our central text Richard J. McNally’s Remembering Trauma (2003) and will read it alongside some novels about twentieth-century warfare, including Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front (World War I) and Blackhawk Down. We will compare works about civilian vs. military perspectives on war, including Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. Additional readings will focus on the relationship of feminist and gender criticism to studies of masculinity. Our aims are to develop expanded and enriched ideas of memory and trauma and their relationship to gender as a tool for examining behavior, conflict, and resolution, and to understand how writing and reading illuminate and transform the experience of war for combatants and noncombatants alike. This is a writing-intensive class. Several short papers and one research paper, 15 pp. Books at Becks.
Spring 2011 courses
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx English 540: The Newberry Library Anglo-Saxon Seminar: Masculinity in the Anglo-Saxon World
We will focus on models of male identity and various scales of masculinity as they emerge from a selection of the most famous Old English poems, among them "The Wanderer," "The Seafarer," "The Battle of Maldon," "The Dream of the Rood," and others, including some riddles. We will also sample a few Old English prose texts and some supplementary texts (handouts). In addition, we will read excerpts from Clare A. Lees, ed., Medieval Masculinities. Class meetings will be divided between Old English (reviewing the basics of grammar as we translate) and analyzing the cultural and theoretical aspects of masculinity in our readings. Advanced skills in Old English are not required; we will build on the basics you acquired in your introductory course. You will want a good Old English grammar as well, either the one you used in your introductory course, or, highly recommended, Bruce Mitchell and Fred Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 7th ed. (Blackwell, 2007; an earlier edition will do). There will be two papers, one at the mid-point (6-7 pp.) and one at the end of the course (10-12 pp.); students have until mid-April to complete the final paper if they wish (subject to the rules of their institutions).
English 323: Masculinity in the Middle Ages
How did boys become men? How did culturally-specific ideas of female and male identity shape the development of the young? How are intimacy, childhood, and family life affected by ideas of what it is to be a man and how does manhood influence their representation? We will read a range of texts from the Middle Ages to shape answers to some of these questions. Our key texts will be romances. Some look back to ancient Germanic heroic code. Others embrace Arthurian traditions and anticipate the social conventions of romance as it emerges in Shakespeare's plays, with elements of fantasy mixed with ambiguous sexual identity. Two papers and two exams, some reading quizzes. No laptops, netbooks, or other electronic devices may be used during class.