F. GRADY                                                                                                                                                                                                     Spring 2011

455 LUCAS                                                                                                                                                                                                    63 University Center

fgrady@umsl.edu/516-5592                                                                                                                                                                           MW 9:30-10:45

MW 12:00-2:00                                                                                                                                                                                               (#14212)

     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, as our assumptions will interact in various and sometimes unpredictable ways with the expectations of the texts we study.  Take some time to 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 in the second half of the term.


Requirements: two 4-5 page papers (20% each), midterm (20%), final (20%), class grade (quizzes, participation in discussion, attendance, and a brief oral presentation, 20%). Perfect attendance and timely submission of assignments are of course expected; missed quizzes may not be made up and more than four absences will certainly have an adverse effect on your grade. I will use the Early Alert System when appropriate, and I remind you to try to keep in touch when unexpected circumstances arise (email is best).


            You will have multiple opportunities to submit the two papers, and except for the last one, essays may be submitted electronically.  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, 3/24).  Extensions may be granted, but only if they are requested more than 24 hours in advance of a deadline.  Undergraduate students are not required to employ secondary sources, nor are they prohibited from doing so. There will be a reserve list in the library, but 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 this site for further details, and please please please ask me if you have any questions.


            Course documents and assignments will be posted on MyGateway, but the main course page will be located at www.umsl.edu/~gradyf/4270sp11SYLL.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:

W JAN 19  Introduction; thinking about the middle ages



M JAN 24  The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: Manuscripts; Pilgrimage (and a modern instance) (chs. 1-14, pp. 43-104)

W JAN 26 Mandeville’s Travels: Here Be Monsters (chs. 15-26, pp. 104-60)



M JAN 31   Mandeville’s Travels: Geotheologicopolitics (chs. 27-34, pp. 160-90)

W FEB 2  Snowpocalypse—no class




M FEB 7   Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: “in their first age…still”

W FEB 9  SGGK, cont.; Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur: Foundations (Preface, Book 1 [chs. 1-7, I. 3-20] & Book 3 [chs. 1-8, I. 92-104])



M FEB 14  Malory: The Tale of Gareth (Book 7 [I. 231-302])

W FEB 16  Malory: The Grail Quest I (Books 13-15 [II. 238-300]

            TH  FEB 18  First essay due date



M FEB 21  No Class

W FEB 23  Malory: The Grail Quest II (Books 16 & 17 [II. 301-72])



M FEB 28 Malory: Lancelot and Guenevere--Lusty Deeds (Book 18 & 19 [II.373-455])

W MAR 2  Malory: Lancelot and Guenevere--Tears



M MAR 7 Malory: The Beginning of the End (Book 20 [II.456-504])

                                         England in the 15th Century

W MAR 9  Malory: Everybody Dies, Maybe (Book 21 [II. 505-532])




W MAR 16  Pearl: Flawless



M MAR 21 Piers Plowman: “Son, are you asleep?” ( Prologue and Passus 1, pp. 3-25)

W MAR 23  Piers Plowman: Money Makes the World Go ‘Round (Passus 2-4, pp. 25-63)

            TH MAR 24 Second essay due date



M MAR 28  Spring

W MAR 30      Break



M APR 4  Piers Plowman: The Seven Deadly Sins (Passus 5 & 6,  pp. 63-111)

W APR 6  Piers Plowman: The Tearing of the Pardon (Passus 7-9, pp. 113-39)



M APR 11  Piers Plowman: The Inner Journey (Passus 10 & 18, pp. 141-163, 303-323)

W APR 13  Macaulay, Cathedral (58m; MyGateway)—no campus meeting



M APR 18 No Class

W APR 20 Piers Plowman: Antichrist (Passus 19-20, pp. 323-363)

            TH APR 21 Third essay due date



M APR 25  The Book of Margery Kempe: “A man most seemly, most beautiful” (Prologue and chs. 1-25, pp. 3-44)

            NEW Third essay due date

W APR 27  The Book of Margery Kempe: The Gift of Tears (chs. 26-43, pp. 44-76)



M MAY 2  The Book of Margery Kempe: Heresy  (chs. 44-55 [pp.76-101], 58-59 [105-08], 61-63 [109-115], 75-81 [130-44]); Lollardy materials on MyGateway

W MAY 4  Saint Erkenwald: recuperating the past (MyGateway)

                                Fourth Essay due date



W MAY 11  Final Exam  7:45-9:45AM


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.