F. GRADY                                                                                         63 University Center

455 LUCAS                                                                                       MW 5:30-6:45

fgrady@umsl.edu/516-5592                                                                         (sec. E01, #51276)

M 2:30-4:30,W 2-4,

and by appointment


            In this course we will read widely in the poetry and prose of later medieval England.  Most of the readings date from about 1350-1475, an era of great accomplishment and considerable variety in English writing and great changes and considerable upheaval in English society--a period of plague, heresy, rebellion, and civil war. The syllabus includes travel literature and autobiography, dream visions and Arthurian romances, sermons and religious allegories.  All of the readings are in modern English translation.


             The literature of the middle ages has the often annoying quality of seeming simultaneously foreign and familiar, since in the period the basic structures (and basic problems) of contemporary Western culture were in the making; appreciating and understanding medieval texts thus requires some intellectual agility and an open mind.  Think about the reading and be prepared to discuss it: what happens in it (and to whom), what it assumes that you know (about the world, about how people ought to behave, and about how they actually do), what it thinks is important and interesting and why (I strongly recommend a reading or rereading of the Old Testament Book of Genesis and one or two of the New Testament Gospels--Matthew or Luke, and John--as background to some of the religious texts we’ll be studying).


Requirements: two 4-5 page papers (20% each), midterm (20%), final (20%), class grade (quizzes, participation in discussion, attendance, and one or two brief oral presentations, 20%). Perfect attendance and timely submission of assignments is of course expected; missed quizzes may not be made up and more than five absences will certainly have an adverse effect on your grade. (I will attempt to use the new Early Alert System when appropriate.)


            You will have multiple opportunities to submit the two papers, and I will make available a (non-exhaustive) list of possible topics several days in advance of each due date.  (Note: you must submit an essay by the second due date, 10/27.) Undergraduate students are not required to employ secondary sources, nor are they prohibited from doing so; bear in mind that the most convenient resource regarding the essays is generally standing at the front of the classroom .  Be advised also that I take the issue of academic dishonesty very seriously; plagiarism on papers will generally mean an instant F for the assignment and likely disciplinary action by the university. Please refer to the English Department’s plagiarism handout for further details, and please please please ask me if you have any questions.


            Course documents and assignments will be posted on mygateway.umsl.edu, but the main course page will be located at www.umsl.edu/~gradyf/4270f06syll.htm, which can also be reached through my home page (www.umsl.edu/~gradyf).



Kempe, M.  The Book of Margery Kempe. Trans. Lynne Staley. Norton Critical Edition. W.W. Norton, 2001. 

Langland, W. Piers Plowman. Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. W.W. Norton, 1990. 

Malory, Sir Thomas.  Le Morte D'Arthur. Ed. Janet Cowen. 2 vols. Penguin, 1986.

Mandeville, Sir John.  The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Trans. C.W.R.D. Moseley.  Penguin,1983.  

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, Pearl.  Trans. Marie Borroff.  W.W. Norton, 2001.


Some useful readings will also be placed on reserve in the library.


Tentative SYLLABUS:

M AUG 21  Introduction; thinking about the middle ages

W AUG 23  The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: Pilgrimage (chs. 1-14, pp. 43-104)



M AUG 28  Mandeville’s Travels: Here Be Monsters (chs. 15-26, pp. 104-60)

W AUG 30  Mandeville’s Travels: Geotheologicopolitics (chs. 27-34, pp. 160-90)




W SEP 6  Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur: Foundations (Preface, Books 1 & 3 [I. 3-59, 92-116])



M SEP 11  Malory: The Tale of Gareth (Book 7 [I. 231-302])

W SEP 13  Malory: The Grail Quest I (Books 11, 13, 15 [II. 188-214, 238-74, 291-300]



M SEP 18  Malory: The Grail Quest II (Books 16 & 17 [II. 301-72])

W SEP 20  Malory: Lancelot and Guenevere: Lusty Deeds (Book 18 [II.373-426])



M SEP 25  Malory: Lancelot and Guenevere: Tears (Book 19 [II. 427-55])

W SEP 27  Malory: The Beginning of the End (Book 20 [II.456-504])

            F SEP 29  First essay due date



M OCT 2  Malory: Everybody Dies, Maybe (Book 21 [II. 505-532])

W OCT 4  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: “in their first age…still”  



M OCT 9  SGGK (cont.)

W OCT 11 




W OCT 18  Pearl: Flawless



M OCT 23 Pearl (cont.); Langland, Piers Plowman, Prologue and Passus 1 (pp. 1-14)

W OCT 25  Piers Plowman: Money Makes the World Go ‘Round (Passus 2-4, pp. 15-39)

            F OCT 27 Second essay due date


M OCT 30  Piers Plowman: The Seven Deadly Sins (Passus 5 & 6,  pp. 39-70)

W NOV 1  Piers Plowman: The Tearing of the Pardon (Passus 7-9, pp. 70-87)



M NOV 6  Piers Plowman: The Inner Journey (Passus 11-14, pp. 104-58)

W NOV 8  St. Erkenwald: The Salvation of the Heathen (xerox)



M NOV 13 Piers Plowman: Antichrist (Passus 18-20, pp. 200-241)

W NOV 15 Piers Plowman (concl.)

            F NOV 17 Third essay due date

                        a brief guide to quoting from the text


M NOV 20 / W NOV 23  Thanksgiving Break: No Class


M NOV 27  The Book Of Margery Kempe: Prologue and chs. 1-25 (pp. 3-44)

W NOV 29  The Book Of Margery Kempe: Chs. 26-43 (pp. 44-76)



M DEC 4  The Book Of Margery Kempe: Chs. 44-55 (pp.76-101), 58-59 (105-08), 61-63 (109-115), 75-81 (130-44)

W DEC 6  Conclusion, or “many marvels that I have not spoken of”

            F DEC 8  Fourth essay due date



M DEC 11  Final Exam  5:30-7:30 PM






Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Access Services Office in 144 Millennium Student Center at 516-6554 as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are arranged in a timely fashion.