Department of English

University of Toronto

1000 Level Courses

Old English I
A. Walton

Course Description:
An introduction for reading knowledge to the oldest literary form of English, with discussion of readings drawn from the surviving prose and verse literature.

Course Reading List: (subject to revision)
McGillivray, Murray. A Gentle Introduction to Old English. Peterborough, Ontario; Buffalo, NY: Broadview Press, 2010.
Mitchell, Bruce, and Fred C. Robinson. A Guide to Old English. 8 edition. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 
Introduction to Old English Coursepack

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements:
Lecture, language drill, and discussion.
Evaluation: 20% midterm; 25% final; 30% participation and quizzes; 25% presentation and final paper (word study, 10 pp.)

Previous acquaintance with Latin, German, or other highly inflected language is useful but not essential. 

Term: F-Term (Fall Term:  September - December 2015)
Date/Time: Thursday, 9:00am - 11:00am, 2 hours
Location: Room JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
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ENG1009HS (Cancelled)
Writing the Nation: Pre-modern Historiographies
S. Akbari

ENG1551HF (Cancelled)
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
W. Robins

Piers Plowman
K. Gaston

Course Description:
A close reading of Piers Plowman, the fourteenth-century visionary poem famously described as “a commentary on an unknown text.” This course will focus on the B-text of the poem with excursions into the A and C texts, giving special attention to issues including: poverty and economics, legal and literary representation, learning and study, and the relationship between Latin and the vernacular. Throughout, we will consider the role that aesthetics play in the poem's treatment of social and ethical problems, occasionally gaining critical traction through comparative readings of Langland and Chaucer.

Course Reading List:
Primary Reading:
The Vision of Piers Plowman: B-Text, ed. A. V. C. Schmidt (if available)
Piers Plowman: A New Annotated Edition of the C-Text, ed. Derek Pearsall
John Trevisa, “Dialogue Between a Lord and a Clerk”
Chaucer, The House of Fame, The Monk’s Tale, The Nun’s Priest’s Tale

Secondary reading including:
Emily Steiner, Reading Piers Plowman (Cambridge, 2013).
Michelle Karnes, “Will’s Imagination in Piers Plowman,” JEGP 108 (2009): 27-58.
Nicholas Watson, “Piers Plowman, Pastoral Theology, and Spiritual Perfectionism: Hawkyn’s Cloak and Patience’s Paternoster,” YLS 21 (2008): 83-118.
Maura Nolan, “The Fortunes of Piers Plowman and its Readers,” YLS 20 (2007): 1-41.
Selections from Nicolette Zeeman, Piers Plowman and the Medieval Discourse of Desire (Cambridge, 2006).
Ralph Hanna III, “School and Scorn: Gender in Piers Plowman,” New Medieval Literatures 3 (1999): 213-227.
Frank Grady, “Chaucer Reading Langland: The House of Fame,” SAC 18 (1996): 3-23.
Elizabeth Fowler, “Civil Death and the Maiden: Agency and the Conditions of Contract in Piers Plowman,” Speculum 70 (1995): 760-792.
David Aers, "Class, Gender, Medieval Criticism, and Piers Plowman," in Harwood and Overing, eds., Class and Gender in Early English Literature: Intersections (Indiana UP, 1994), 59-75.
Anne Middleton, “William Langland’s ‘Kynde Name’: Authorial Signature and Social Identity in Fourteenth- Century England,” in Lee Patterson, ed., Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380-1530 (Berkeley, 1990).
James Simpson, "The Role of Scientia in Piers Plowman." In Kratzmann and Simpson, eds., Medieval Religious and Ethical Literature (D.S. Brewer, 1986). 49-65.
Anne Middleton, “Two Infinites: Grammatical Metaphor in Piers Plowman,” ELH 39 (1972): 169-88.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Final paper 35%; Langland-adjacent paper 25%; In-class presentation and response 20%; Class participation 20%.

Term:  S-Term (Spring Term: January - April 2016)
Date/Time:  Thursday,  11:00am - 1:00pm,  2 hours
Location: Room
JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Medieval Drama: The Biblical Cycles and Fragments
M. Sergi

Course Description:
For two centuries before the rise of print culture and commercial theatres, community-based civic drama was arguably the literary medium that reached the broadest demographic of people in Britain. These biblical plays, usually organized into multi-play cycles, incorporated texts that were complex and highly literate—though their performances required no verbal literacy to appreciate, nor any cultural literacy beyond common familiarity with Bible stories.

We will read through the bulk of the extant English cycles excluding Towneley: our class reading will generally be restricted to primary sources, with student presentations each week that focus on the most recent critical work in the field. On the way, we’ll make frequent visits to REED (Records of Early English Drama) and we will sharpen, where necessary, our skills at reading Middle English in various dialects.

Course Reading List:

The full York Cycle; the full Chester Cycle; the full EETS Non-Cycle Plays. Excerpts from the N-Town Plays, the Towneley Plays, and Welsh and Cornish cognates (in translation). Over the course of the semester, each student will also be responsible for reading and reporting back on one book of medieval drama criticism; in preparation for those presentations, I may assign selected short chapters.

Method of evaluation and Course Requirements:
50% seminar paper (including an annotated bibliography and proposal); 20% in-class presentation; 15% informed participation and engagement; 15% Middle English reading assessment test (administered in the fourth week of class).

Term: S-Term (Spring Term - January - April 2016)
Date/Time: Monday, * 3:00pm - 5:00pm, 2 hours  * NOTE CHANGED TIME
Location: JHB 614 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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