Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG444H1S L0101

ENG444H1S   L0101   T2-4 
Advanced Studies Group 4
: Medieval Animals
Professor Audrey Walton
Office Location:
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 733

Brief Description of Course: This course will explore the diverse ways that animals figure in medieval literature, theory, and manuscript production. We will read works in a variety of late antique and medieval genres—from the anonymous Greek Physiologus and its translation into Old English verse, to the comical beast fable of Chaucer’s “Nun’s Priest’s Tale,” with riddles, lyrics, fables, bestiaries, and romances in between. While our course will focus on the literature of Western Europe, especially that of England, we will also look to ninth-century Arabic texts and to the rediscovery of Aristotle by Aquinas. We will ask a variety of questions about the way medieval literature stages animal encounters. How do the human-animal relationships represented in these texts challenge our familiar categories of identity and community? How do medieval representations of human-animal relations require us to think differently about the intersections of human and animal life? Considering these questions, students will engage in depth with medieval literary and interpretive practices. Along the way, they will receive an introduction to the growing field of literary scholarship called critical animal studies.

Required Reading:

First Three Authors/Texts: 
Physiologus: A Medieval Book of Nature Lore (ed. Curley); Isidore of Seville, The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville (selections only; eds. Barney et al.); Lactantius, The Phoenix (trans. White, to be available in coursepack).

Method of Instruction:

Method of Evaluation: Critical essays, class presentation, discussion participation, no tests nor exams.

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