Department of English

University of Toronto

1000 Series Course Descriptions

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)
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 or First Term:  September - December 2017)
Date/Time: Mondays, 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm, 3 hours
Location: Room JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Old English II: Beowulf
H. Momma

Course Description:
This course is devoted to a reading of Beowulf, within the context of the English heroic age. The heroic concepts and values which inform the poem will be analyzed primarily through the poet's linguistic choices and rhetorical strategies: the poetic compounds he coins or appropriates, his appositions, variations, and digressions. Language will be used as a tool to explore cultural questions such as the manipulation of kindred and ethnic affinities and the constructions of legitimate and illegitimate violence. In addition, we will be concerned with questions of dating, of meter, of the authority of the manuscript, of the poem in its manuscript context, and, finally, of the evidence of archaeology.

Course Reading List:

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements:


Term: S-Term (Spring or Second Term:  January - April 2018)
Date/Time: Tuesdays, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm, 2 hours
Location: Room JHB 617 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Reception of the Classics in Middle English Literature
K. Gaston

Course Description:
As London’s medieval self-appellation, “Troynovant,” suggests, the classical world shaped both life and literature in medieval England. Classical poetry was used to teach grammar in schools—and with it ethics, gender roles, and oral performance. Epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid and Statius’s Thebaid offered models for conceptualizing history. Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Ars amatoria supplied insight into emotion, rhetoric, and poetics. Vernacular English poets learned from this tradition even as they grappled with its formidable legacy, working to define the relationship between English literature and its Latin antecedents. This course traces the reception of Virgil, Ovid, and Statius in Medieval England, giving special attention to the cultural and material contexts in which their works circulated. We will then read Middle English literature that grows out of, appropriates, and rethinks classical poetry, including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, and Lydgate’s Siege of Thebes. Our secondary reading will explore the theory and practice of intertextual analysis and reception studies, considering what kinds of insights may be gained by analyzing relationships between texts.

Course Reading List:
Classical texts including Virgil, Aeneid; Statius, Thebaid and Achilleid; Ovid, Metamorphoses, Ars Amatoria, Heroides. Commentaries of Servius, Lactantius Placidus and Bernardus Silvestris. Middle English texts including The Alliterative Morte Darthur, Sir Orfeo, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and The Knight’s Tale, Gower’s Confessio Amantis, and Lydgate’s The Siege of Thebes. Secondary reading may include selections from Christopher Baswell, Virgil in Medieval England, Ralph Hexter, Ovid and Medieval Schooling, Rita Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics, and Translation and articles by Marjorie Curry Woods, Lee Patterson, Andrew Galloway, and others.

Course Method of Evaluation and Requirements:
Research paper (40%), shorter essays (30%), participation (15%), oral presentation (15%). All texts will be read in English translation.


Term: F-Term (Fall or First Term:  September - December 2017)
Date/Time: Thursdays, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm, 2 hours
Location: Room JHB 617 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
S. Akbari

Course Description:
This course explores Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in the context of several different critical approaches, such as historicism, formalism, intertextuality, gender studies, and textual criticism. We read the Canterbury Tales in their entirety, examining some of the interpretive issues with which recent Chaucer criticism has been most concerned, and considering relevant ancient and medieval sources and analogues.

The critical focus for the 2017-18 iteration of this course will be on queer theory and the history of sexuality (especially queer temporalities). Beginning with feminist approaches to Chaucer in the 1970s and focusing particularly on the work of Carolyn Dinshaw, we will unpack the critical genealogy of Chaucer interpretation over the last three decades, with special attention to the impact of gender and sex on temporal continuities as revealed by a comparison of the more historical Canterbury Tales (e.g., Knight, Man of Law) with their sources and analogues.
Reading List:
Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer's Sexual Poetics (1989)
Carolyn Dinshaw, How Soon Is Now? (2012)
Selected medieval analogues and critical essays will be made available via Blackboard.

Course Requirements and Method of Evaluation:
Final paper: 50%
Abstract: 10%
Oral presentations: 20%
Class participation: 20%

Previous work in Middle English (or permission of the instructor) is a pre-requisite for this class.

Term: S-Term (Spring or Second Term: January - April 2018)
Date/Time: Mondays,  4:00 pm - 6:00 pm, 2 hours
Location: Room LI 301 (Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen's Park)

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