Placed between the classical tradition and the Renaissance literature, medieval English literature has its own unique beauty and complexity in British literary history. This course is designed to introduce major works in medieval England, approximately from the fifth century to the fifteenth century. We will proceed mainly in two forms: lectures and small group discussions. Each literary work will be read, analyzed, and discussed with its own cultural, social, and historical context.
This course firstly discusses Old English works, from Bede to _Beowulf_. Then we read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s _History of the Kings of Britain_, a twelfth-century Latin chronicle, to see the change from Anglo-Saxon England to Anglo-Norman England. After that, we spend some time on Middle English, and read some of the most famous medieval English works, such as _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_ and Geoffrey Chaucer’s _The Canterbury Tales_. We will pay attention to the medieval society represented in these late-medieval works. Several weeks will be devoted to read works of religious context, such as _Piers Plowman_ and Margery Kempe. Finally, this course ends with the reading of Thomas Malory’s _Le Morte d’Arthur_ to explore the Arthurian romances.