Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG444H1S L0101

ENG444H1S   L0101   M1-3
Advanced Studies Group 4: Medieval English Romances
Instructor:
Prof. F. Michelet
Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 928
Email:
fabienne.michelet@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: Medieval romance is a literary genre most readily associated with the Middle Ages by contemporary audiences, but its openness and flexibility make it resistant to definition. The word romanz was first used for works composed in the vernacular in twelfth-century France, and it quickly came to designate secular narratives which tell of chivalric and/or amorous adventures. Arguably the most popular literature of entertainment of the Middle Ages, romances flourished in Europe between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries; they have been seen as forerunners of the modern novel and of contemporary popular fiction. We will explore the vast spectrum covered by romances in later Medieval England, from stylistically simple popular narratives to more elite and bookish romances. From short Breton lays to Arthurian tales, we will read a variety of romances, and we will address questions such as chivalric ideals and gender constructions; the desire for origins; identity and shape-shifting; love, marriage and genealogy; heroism and political concerns; or the function of exoticism and magic. Texts will be read in Middle English, but no prior knowledge of it is expected.

Required Reading: A full list will be provided on the first day of classes. I may also post readings on Blackboard or provide a course packet.

First Three Authors/Texts: Sir Launfal; The Sowdone of Babylon; Emaré.

Method of Evaluation: Term paper; presentation; participation (other written work, no final exam).

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