English 443: The Literature of the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages covers the thousand-year period between 500 and 1500 and offer such a wealth and variety of literary achievement that no single class can hope to survey it all. This class will focus on the origins of English literature--that is, literature written in English--which was not necessarily the language of choice for the written word. Literature in English faced significant contribution from Latin and French during the Middle Ages, and this has had an effect on modern critics, who have tended to see many works, particularly those with popular origins, as inferior and worthy of little study. In recent years, the growth of new literary theories and methodologies has revived interest in these works and suggested that they have greater significance than scholars of the past have believed. One of the most important developments is the growth of the digital humanities, the use of computer technologies to aid in the study of literary and other texts. At the end of the course we will examine some techniques for using computer-based analysis to shed light on early English literature.

Students in this course will: