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EH 655: Medieval Monsters (graduate)

EH 655: Medieval Monsters aims to explore identity and monstrosity in European medieval
literature. We will read a variety of texts spanning several centuries that explore traditional
monsters (werewolves, etc.), as well as monstrousness and animality via race (Jews and Saracens)
and hybridity (hybrid races, hybrid monsters, hybrid animals). 
We will read texts in the original
Middle English where available, and translations of Old French and Latin works.



Helpful Links:

Middle English Dictionary

Internet Medieval Sourcebook

ORB: Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies

TEAMS Middle English Texts Series


In the Middle (medievalist blog)

Chancery Rolls


HW: Prior to first class, read Cohen “Monster Theory” (CANVAS), Of Giants “introduction,” read Beowulf lines 1-870


May 26 Introduction to course, Syllabus, Monster Theory; Beowulf

HW: Read Of Giants chapter 1; finish Beowulf

May 28 Beowulf

HW: Read “The Kin of Cain” and “From Grettir’s Saga (Beowulf book pp. 91-93 and 200-217); Read Geoffrey of Monmouth Part One (pp. 50-74) and Part Seven (pp. 212-261)


June 2 Beowulf; begin Geoffrey of Monmouth

HW: Read Of Giants chapters 2 and 6 (to p.159)

June 4 Geoffrey of Monmouth and Arthur

HW: Read Marie de France’s “Yonek,” “Guigemar,” and “Bisclavret” (CANVAS); Paul Hagerty “Giorgio Agamben” (CANVAS), Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer (CANVAS), Agamben “On the Uses and Disadvantages of Living Among Specters” and “Identity without the Person” (CANVAS)


June 9 Reading Response Essay Due; Marie de France’s “Yonek” and “Bisclavret”

HW: Read Melion (CANVAS); Wolfe “Human, All Too Human” (CANVAS)

June 11 Melion and the animal

HW: Read Gerald of Wales’ Itinerariam Cambriae (CANVAS [read 1.2, 10; 2.11]) and Topographia Hibernica (http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/topography_ireland.pdf [read pp. 2-6; 44-52]; Cohen “Hybrids, Monsters, Borderlands” (CANVAS); Mandeville’s Travels excerpts (CANVAS); Salih “Idols and Simulacra” (CANVAS)


June 16 Gerald of Wales; Mandeville’s Travels

HW: Sir Gowther (Introduction- http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/laskaya-and-salisbury-middle-english-breton-lays-sir-gowther-introduction; Text-http://d.lib.rochester.edu/teams/text/laskaya-and-salisbury-middle-english-breton-lays-sir-gowther) ; Breaton Lai “Tydorel” http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk2/tape15/PQDD_0003/MQ28888.pdf). Of Giants chapter 5

June 18 Sir Gowther

HW: Read Guy of Warwick “introduction” and lines 1-2784; Zizek “You Only Die Twice” (pp. 145-170 in link)


June 23 Close Reading Essay Due; Guy of Warwick

HW: finish Guy of Warwick

June 25 Guy of Warwick

HW: Read Chaucer’s “Prioress’s Tale” (link) and Plague Material (CANVAS)


June 30 Plague, Jews, and “The Prioress’s Tale”

July 2 No class (holiday)

HW: Read Siege of Jerusalem; Heng “The Romance of England” (CANVAS)


July 7: Siege of Jerusalem

HW: finish Siege of Jerusalem; read Bildhauer “Blood, Jews, and Monsters” (CANVAS)

July 9 Siege of Jerusalem

HW: Read Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle (link intro and poem), The Turke and Sir Gawain (link intro and poem), Bennett and Royle “Uncanny” (CANVAS), Of Giants (pp. 159-66)


July 14 Abstracts and Critical Review Due;  Sir Gawain and the Carl of Carlisle, Sir Gawain and the Turk

HW: The Awntyrs off Arthure at Terne Wathlyn (intro and text); Bennett and Royle “Ghosts” (CANVAS)

July 16 The Awntyrs off Arthure at Terne Wathlyn

HW: The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell (intro and poem)


July 21: The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell

HW: Read Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe excerpts (CANVAS); Liz Herbert McAvoy “Monstrous Masculinities” (CANVAS)

July 23 Medieval Mysticism , wrap up

HW: Complete Seminar Papers

Final Papers Due Wednesday July 29 by 5pm