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ENGLISH LITERATURE (L14)  (Dept. Info)Arts & Sciences  (Policies)SP2017

L14 E Lit 511Seminar: Beowulf, Gawain, & Piers Plowman: Alliterative Poetry in Medieval Britain & its Afterlives3.0 Units
Description:Some of the greatest poems ever written in English -- "Beowulf," "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight," "Piers Plowman" -- were composed in alliterative meter, which was the staple poetic form of Old English, was revived in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but ceased to be composed during the sixteenth century. This course will read alliterative poems: the three works listed in the title, and several others from Old and Middle English (including works of political and religious opposition). Students may use specific translations (Heaney's "Beowulf," Tolkien's and Armitage's "Gawain," Donaldson's "Piers") but are encouraged to become familiar with the original language, style and sound of these poems. We shall study alliterative poetry historically as well as critically: who wrote it, and who read it? Why was it revived in later medieval England, and from what sources? Given the quality of the later works, why did the form apparently die out? Did it really do so, or was its future history in poetry and prose masked by linguistic and cultural change, and by later scholarly misunderstanding? We shall think about historical memory and archive, reading communities and literary culture/s. So the course models questions about understanding (and imagining) the literary production of a distant past, offers the intense and often unexpected pleasures of reading it, and asks how in fact it might be more closely related to the present.
Instruction Type:Classroom instruction Grade Options:CPA Fees:
Course Type:HomeSame As:N/AFrequency:None / History


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