F. GRADY                                                                                                                                           SPRING 2015

LAIRD 204A                                                                                                                                       MW 9:50-11:00,

222-4318                                                                                                                                             F 9:40-10:40

MW 11:15-12:15, T 11:00-12:30                                                                                                         LIBRARY 344                                                                                                

& by appointment




            This course surveys the poetry and prose of later medieval England, 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. Readings (in modern translation) will include travel literature and autobiography, dream visions and Arthurian romances, sermons, saints' lives, and allegories.


           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 as you prepare 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.  If it has been a while, or if you’ve never had the opportunity, I would recommend a reading or rereading of the Hebrew 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 throughout the term.


Requirements: two four- to six-page essays (±1400 words, 20% each), final (20%), three very brief oral presentations (two summaries and a hagiography--20%), class grade (quizzes, participation, attendance, 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. Try to keep in touch when unexpected circumstances arise (email is best).


          You will have three opportunities to submit the two papers.  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 for the first due date, 4/16).  Extensions will be granted, but only if they are requested more than 24 hours in advance of a deadline.  Be advised that I take the issue of academic dishonesty very seriously; plagiarism on papers will generally mean an instant F for the assignment, possible disciplinary action by the College, and my undying disapprobation. 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 Moodle, but the main course page will be located at www.umsl.edu/~gradyf/eng114sp2015.htm.



·        Mandeville, Sir John.  The Book of Marvels and Travels. Trans. Anthony Bale. Oxford World’s Classics, 2012.   ISBN 978-0-19-960060-1

·        The Gawain Poet: Complete Works: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, Cleanness, Pearl, Saint Erkenwald. Trans. Marie Borroff. Paperback. W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. ISBN 978-0393912357 [hence CW]

·        Langland, William. Piers Plowman: An Alliterative Verse Translation.  Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. W.W. Norton, 1990. ISBN 978-0-393-96011-2


·        Kempe, Margery.  The Book of Margery Kempe. Trans. Lynne Staley. Norton Critical Edition. W.W. Norton, 2000.  ISBN 978-0-393-97639-7

·        Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte D'Arthur: The Winchester Manuscript. Ed. Helen Cooper. Oxford World's Classics, 1998. Paperback.  ISBN 978-0192824202



·        Leiman and Balaam, The Carleton Student’s Guide to Writing for English Courses



M MAR 30  Introduction; thinking about the middle ages


W APR 1  The Travels of Sir John Mandeville: Pilgrimage (chs. 1-8, pp. 5-57)


F APR 3  Mandeville’s Travels: Here Be Monsters; Circumnavigation (chs. 6-15, pp. 57-87)



M APR 6  Mandeville’s Travels: Geotheologicopolitics (chs. 16-24, pp. 87-124)


W APR 8  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: “in their first age…still” (parts 1-2; CW 201-27)


F APR 10  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Green Christmas (parts 2- 4; CW 227-60)



M APR 13  Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: “polished as a pearl?”


W APR 15  Pearl: Flawless (CW 125-160)


          **TH APR 16 First essay due date**


F APR 17  Saint Erkenwald: Recuperating the Past  (CW 175-83)



M APR 20  Piers Plowman: “Son, are you asleep?” (Prologue and Passus 1, pp. 1-22)


W APR 22  Piers Plowman: Money Makes the World Go ‘Round (Passus 2-4, pp. 22-39)


F APR 24  Piers Plowman: The Seven Deadly Sins—Live! (Passus 5, pp. 39-60)



M APR 27  Piers Plowman: Strivings against the Statute / (Passus 6, pp. 60-70)

                   1351 Statute of Laborers & associated petitions (Moodle)


W APR 29  Piers Plowman: The Tearing of the Pardon / The Inner Journey Begins (Passus 7-8, pp.70-80)


F MAY 1  Piers Plowman: Thought/Wit/Study; The Harrowing of Hell (Passus 9 & 10.1-226, pp. 81-95; Passus 18, 200-14)





W MAY 6  Piers Plowman: Antichrist (Passus 19-20, pp. 214-41)



          **Please watch Macaulay, Cathedral (58m)**



M MAY 11 The Book of Margery Kempe: “A man most seemly, most beautiful” (Prologue and chs. 1-37 [pp. 3-67])


W MAY 13  The Book of Margery Kempe: Margery Kempe, Heretic? (chs. 38-55  [pp. 67-101], 58-63 [105-15], 75-81 [130-44], 85 [151-52])


F MAY 15  Geoffrey Chaucer, The Parliament of Fowls (Moodle)


          **Sa May 16  Second essay due date**



M MAY 18  Chaucer, The Franklin’s Tale (Moodle)


W MAY 20  Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur: Foundations ( “How Uther Pendragon…,” 3-32; “The Wedding of King Arthur,” 50-57; Caxton’s Preface, 528-30)


F MAY 22  Malory: IOKIYAKOTRT (“The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney,” 120-68)



M MAY 25  Malory: The Grail Quest (“The Noble Tale of the Sangrail,” 311-402)


W MAY 27  Malory: Lancelot and Guenevere--Lusty Deeds & Tears

                             (“The Tale of Sir Lancelot…,” 403-67)


F MAY 29  Malory: The Beginning of the End (“The Death of King Arthur,” 468-505)



M JUN 1  Malory: Everybody Dies, Maybe (“The Death of King Arthur,” 506-27)




          ** Th Jun 4 Third essay due date**



Final Exam: MON JUN 8, 8:30-11:00



Carleton College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities. Students seeking accommodations should contact the Coordinator of Disability Services, Andy Christensen, at 222-4464 or anchrist@carleton.edu, to begin the process.