Introduction to Medieval Literature and Culture

Just recently, Chazelle, Doubleday et al. published an essay collection entitled Why the Middle Ages still Matter – Medieval Light on Modern Injustice arguing that "whether romantic or barbarian, the medieval is wrongly disconnected from – and irrelevant – to the modern". In contemporary times in which we more or less are facing a renaissance of the medieval through fantastic popular TV series such as Games of Thrones – a picture of the medieval is conveyed which seems definitely disconnected – not from the modern but from the historical reality. 

This course introduces students to the most significant English-language authors and their works ranging from the 08th to 15th centuries. It will look at the medieval times from three perspectives: historical, fictional and contemporary. It will in addition help you in understanding the historical background of writing and living in medieval times and show you that a knowledge of medieval literature can be a useful context for understanding modern developments of English literature. Readings have been chosen to illustrate key themes or highlight individual authors’ work. The textual basis will range from classics such as Beowulf and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the fables of Marie de France and the cross-dressing romance of Silence.