5100 Topics in Medieval Literature

ENG5100HF    L0101    

Digital Humanities Practicum: Records of Early English Drama, 1325-1642   

Sergi, M.    

 

Course Description:  

The Records of Early English Drama (REED) project, headquartered on Floor 8 of the JHB, has been working for over four decades “to locate, transcribe, and edit historical documents containing evidence of drama, secular music, and other communal entertainment and ceremony from the Middle Ages until 1642.” Medieval and early modern drama studies generally focus on extant play texts, though these represent only a small fraction of performance culture in early England; REED fills in that gap, bearing witness to the ubiquitous existence of performance, though not always being able to reveal more about performances than that they did exist. The operative idea of REED has always been to know more — to compile all available archival evidence of early performance practices (far beyond simply contextualizing extant plays), a mass of information unprecedented in historical drama studies, at once comprehensive and tantalizingly incomplete — and to leave it to drama scholars to figure out what to do with it all. Of course, during those same four decades, new technologies have arisen that have shifted how scholars work with, and think through, masses of information. REED has, as a result, has gone digital: a process whose fundamental reorientation of the archives must provoke a rethinking of early drama historiography itself — and which reaffirms the necessity of digital humanities training for twenty-first-century medievalists and early modernists. In lieu of traditional essay writing, ENG5100H will give students real hands-on experience in the digital humanities, leading them step by step as they transcribe, format, edit, index, and tag entries in REED’s “York Protoype” (that is, in the digitization of REED material gathered from medieval and early modern York, only currently available in hard copy).  Each student in ENG5100H will be able, by the end of term, to point to a set of online REED entries and say that they were the one to have digitized it (thus adding a valuable line to their CV). In exchange for the real contributions that ENG5100H will make to REED, staff members from REED will provide training and presentations not only on the digital elements of REED, but on the full range of paleographical and archival work that REED does. Meanwhile, weekly readings (and periodic student presentations on those readings) will introduce students to, and provoke discussions about, the crucial role that archival research, digital or not, plays in the study of medieval and early modern drama. ENG5100H is geared toward students who are new to digital humanities: no prior experience in or knowledge of technology is necessary here, only patience, and willingness to try something new. 

Course Reading List:  

TBA

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:  [NB: SGS requires that participation grade must not exceed 20% of total grade]

TBA

 

Term: F-TERM (September 2024 to December 2024)
Date/Time: Wednesday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm (2 hours)
Location:  TBA

Delivery: In-Person  


ENG5101HS    L0101    

Reception of the Classics in Middle English Literature 

Gaston, K.   

 

Course Description:  This course traces the reception of Classical authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Lucan, and Statius in Medieval England. We will give special attention to the cultural, material, and institutional contexts within which these works circulated and which, in turn, shaped how they were taken up by vernacular English poets. We will consider how the adaption of Classical literature provides a site for exploring the writing and interpretation of history, identity and its performance, poetic form, and poetic truth. English poetry under consideration may include works by Chaucer, Gower, and Lydgate as well as the anonymous Sir Orfeo and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Course Reading List:  TBA

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: TBA 

Term: S-TERM (January 2025 to April 2025)
Date/Time: Wednesday 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm (2 hours)
Location:  TBA

Delivery: In-Person  


ENG5102HS    L0101    

Writing the Self in Late-medieval England: Thomas Hoccleve and Margery Kempe  

Sobecki, S.    

 

Course Description:  

What did it mean to be an “author” in late-medieval England? How do premodern writers compete for authority with scribes and readers? Are fifteenth-century autobiographical narrators literary fictions or biological selves? To answer these questions, we will explore how two of the most exciting and original fifteenth-century English writers, Thomas Hoccleve and Margery Kempe, establish their voices while writing under the conditions imposed by manuscript culture. We will read Thomas Hoccleve’s cycle of five poems, The Series, and his earlier Le Male Regle, as well as The Book of Margery Kempe, the first autobiography by an English writer. Both authors have produced some of the most personal works in medieval England. Hoccleve’s poems try to process his struggles with mental health and personal loss, while Kempe’s extravagant, larger-than-life personality breaks new ground in women’s literature and life-writing. We will discuss premodern concepts of authorship, (auto)biography, social identity, gender, and mental health, alongside exploring material culture. We will follow cutting-edge research and examine Hoccleve’s and Kempe’s works in surviving manuscripts, some of which were written in their author’s own hand.

Course Reading List:  

1.    Hoccleve, Thomas. ‘My Compleinte’ and Other Poems. Edited by Roger Ellis. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001.
2.    Kempe, Margery. The Book of Margery Kempe. Edited by Anthony Bale. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
3.    Sobecki, Sebastian. Last Words: The Public Self and the Social Author in Late-medieval England. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: [NB: SGS requires that participation grade must not exceed 20% of total grade]
•    Participation 10%;
•    Book Review 10%;
•    Presentation 10%;
•    Short Essay 20%;
•    Final Essay 50%.

 

Term: S-TERM (January 2025 to April 2025)
Date/Time: Wednesday 11:00 am to 1:00 pm (2 hours)
Location:  TBA

Delivery: In-Person