Current Courses of Interest in Consortium Universities

FALL 2016
English 358.412 Old English Language and Literature
This course is designed to give students with no previous knowledge of Old English the basic skills necessary to read and interpret Old English texts. We will examine a variety of poetic and prose writings, including Old English alliterative shorter poems dealing with exile, gender roles, and early medieval cults of the cross; chronicles and historical narratives designed to construct specific ideas about the past and historical memory; and excerpts from the growing body of vernacular religious writings produced for an Anglo-Saxon populace that, according to some monks, was becoming increasingly illiterate. Throughout the course, attention will be given to Old English pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary, and most of the individual class periods will be devoted to reviewing and discussing translations which students will have prepared at home. Enrolled graduate students will be assigned additional readings and will meet with me individually and in small groups to discuss bibliographic and other resources for pursuing Anglo-Saxon studies, theoretical approaches to the period’s literature, and their own research interests.
English 358:612 English 358:612 Medieval Childhood
This seminar will provide a survey of childhood, parenting, and human development as depicted in medieval writings from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries. We will consider medieval “children’s literature,” textual accounts of child oblation and baptism, genealogies and ancestral records, familial structures and domestic spaces (both monastic and secular), medical texts dealing with conception, birth and nursing, foster-parenting as undertaken by animals and humans in medieval romance, hagiographical accounts of child martyrs, textual and archaeological records of infant mortality and child burials, and imaginative efforts to depict youth, adolescence, and smallness in medieval poetry. Throughout the course we will question the extent to which childhood and adolescence were recognized in the Middle Ages as distinct stages of human life and also examine popular tendencies to infantilize both the Middle Ages and its literature. Readings may include Augustine’s Confessions, Beowulf, Ælfric’s Colloquy on the Occupations, medieval medical texts, select Canterbury Tales, The “ABC of Aristotle,” Pearl, The Life of Saint Kenelm, Ypotis, Sir Gowther, and How the Good Wife Taught her Daughter, as well as essays on medieval childhood from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including archaeology, history, literature, material culture, and art history.
This course requires no previous background in medieval literature and will provide a solid foundation for students who may be asked to teach medieval texts at some point in their careers. Most of our texts will be available in Modern English translation. However, some course time will be reserved for introducing students to (or increasing students’ facility with) Old and Middle English.
SPRING  2016
English 358.412 Old English Language and Literature
This course is an intensive study of Old English, the language written and spoken in England from approximately 450 to 1100 AD. The seminar format will allow students the opportunity to develop skills in critical thinking and writing necessary for undertaking large-scale research projects in literary studies. Readings will focus mainly on Anglo-Saxon hagiographical narratives, or saints’ lives, one of the most popular genres of early medieval writings. These racy narratives of holy men, women, and animals (composed in both verse and prose) offer rich ground for exploring the language and culture of England before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Medieval hagiography was once dismissed by serious scholars of literature as non-literary, derivative (of Latin sources) and artistically lacking. Yet in recent decades, hagiography has come increasingly to the forefront of Anglo-Saxon studies and thus offers an excellent springboard for investigating broader issues in literary studies, such as why we read certain texts rather than others, what we hope to gain from reading, and how modern ideas about reading and interpretation might have differed from those held in earlier historical periods.
English 358:612 English 358:612 Theorizing Gender Before 1500
This course will explore issues and questions generated by two developments in medieval studies: the increasingly central position of gender as a topic for critical analysis, and the use of contemporary theory as a means to explore the past. We will be concerned to trace out how medievalists have both used and produced theories that touch on gender, to examine fundamental changes in public attitudes toward gender from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries, and to develop a variety of working models for theorizing gender in medieval texts.
We will focus many of our primary readings on hagiography and romance—two extremely popular genres of medieval writing. Both genres foreground gender, gendered bodies, sexuality, marriage, and family within highly formulaic and yet historically particularized narrative structures, and thus offer rich ground for mediating between theoretical issues and the claims of a particular historical period. Brief tours of Anglo-Saxon poetry and later medieval visionary literature will offer additional perspectives on gender, as well as primary materials for theorizing gender. Throughout the course, we will read theoretical texts and examine analyses of gender from a variety of disciplines. This course requires no prior experience in medieval literature and will provide a solid foundation for students who may be asked to teach medieval texts at some point in their careers. All texts will be available in modern English translation. However, some course time will be reserved for increasing students’ facility with Old and Middle English.
This course will primarily consist in the task of translating the remarkably challenging poem Beowulf. We will be reading (smaller) portions of the vast quantity of secondary texts as we negotiate and debate issues raised by our readings and contemporary scholarship. As we work through the language of the text, comparing translations with our own, we will also be tracking concepts. Each student will be using the communal Wiki for posting translations as well as for starting individual projects on word clusters / concepts.
W 2:10pm-4:00pm (undergrad)
This course is intended as an introduction to the Old English language with an eye to comfortable reading of Old English prose and poetry. Students will acquire a foundation in several genres of Old English literature and, through them, a passing familiarity with Anglo-Saxon culture. An added benefit to studying Old English is the number of insights you will gain into the seeming oddities of Present-Day English, such as discrepancies between spelling and pronunciation, the seemingly chaotic shifts verbs undergo passing from present to past tense, the function of ‘whom’, and why the apostrophes are there in the possessive. In contrast to the way modern languages tend to be studied, students of Old English will get an intensive and comprehensive introduction to the grammar of the language so that they can comfortably work with normalized texts by the end of the semester. 
This course is ideal for (A) students who are interested in early medieval English literature and want to read BeowulfThe Wanderer, and other Old English poems in the original; (B) language lovers who would welcome the challenge of learning a 1000-year-old language that looks more like German than English, and which has many intricate poetic words; and/or (C) scholars who are thinking of going to graduate school to specialize in early British literature and culture.
The course is accordingly divided into three sections. First, students will master the fundamental structure of the language by methodically studying core grammar and picking up basic vocabulary from short and easy prose passages. In this section, we will also read well-known Old English verse and prose in translation and look into the culture, history, and literature of pre-Conquest England. Some emphasis will be placed on the Viking invasions.
In the second section, we will read short poems in the original, including elegies (e.g. The Wife’s Lament), riddles (from profound to profane), and religious poems (e.g. The Dream of the Rood). Students will also be introduced to essays on related topics (gender, warfare, kingship, religion, runes, medievalism, etc.).
In the last section, we will read excerpts from Beowulf by using a richly glossed text. After watching video clips and listening to recordings, students will perform (or read aloud) their favorite passages from the poem according to their own interpretations.

FALL 2014
ENGL W4091 Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature Introduction
This class is an introduction to the language and literature of England from around the 8th to the 11th centuries. Because this is predominantly a language class, we will spend much of our class time studying grammar as we learn to translate literary and non-literary texts. While this course provides a general historical framework for the period as it introduces you to the culture of Anglo-Saxon England, it will also take a close look at how each literary work contextualizes (or recontextualizes) relationships between human and divine, body and soul, individual and group, animal and human. We will be using Mitchell and Robinson's An Introduction to Old English, along with other supplements. We will be looking at recent scholarly work in the field and looking at different ways (theoretical, and other) of reading these medieval texts. Requirements: Students will be expected to do assignments for each meeting. The course will involve a mid-term, a final exam, and a final presentation on a Riddle which will also be turned in.
M 9:00am-12:00pm (grad/undergrad)
This course is designed for students who are interested in the language, literature, and culture of England up to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It will provide solid practice in the language and close reading of texts, both canonical and not-quite-canonical, while introducing students to cultural and historical backgrounds, representative secondary material, and the reception of the Middle Ages in the modern era.
M 6:20-8:20pm (grad)