21L.460 / SP.514 / WGS.514 Medieval Literature: Medieval Women Writers

Spring 2004

Joan of Arc statue.
Joan of Arc statue at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. (Image courtesy of Thomas Warm and stock.xchng.)

Course Highlights

All assignments and an extensive list of related Web sites are available for this course.

Course Description

This survey provides a general introduction to medieval European literature (from Late Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century) from the perspective of women writers from a variety of cultures, social backgrounds, and historical timeperiods. Though much of the class will be devoted to exploring the evolution of a new literary tradition by and for women from its earliest emergence in the West, wider historical and cultural movements will also be addressed: the Fall of the Roman Empire, the growth of religious communities, the shift from orality to literacy, the culture of chivalry and courtly love, the emergence of scholasticism and universities, changes in devotional practices, the persecution of heretics, the rise of nationalism and class consciousness. Authors will include some of the most famous women of the period: Hildegard of Bingen, Heloise of Paris, Marie de France, Christine de Pizan, Joan of Arc, Margery Kempe, along with many interesting and intriguing though lesser known figures.
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Staff

Instructor:
Prof. James Cain

Course Meeting Times

Lectures:
Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session

Level

Undergraduate