ENGL 376 A: Introduction To Middle English Language

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
Location: 
THO 119
SLN: 
14165
Instructor:
Colette Moore
Colette Moore

Syllabus Description:

This course investigates the language and culture of the Middle English period in England (1100-1500).  We will examine Middle English texts with an eye to the cultural importance of written material and the shifting roles of literacy in early England.  We will consider different kinds of texts: letters, instruction manuals, poems, saints' lives, court documents, scientific treatises, and religious or mystical writings.  In our readings, we will encounter the differing relationships of English speakers to their language: the ways that French, English and Latin coexisted in this period, the ways that regional dialects of English divided up the linguistic landscape, the use of literacy as a means for ecclesiastical authority, the importance of gender for the use and change of English, the function of written texts prior to the advent of print culture. 

 

Along the way, we will learn to read Middle English, and experience the excitement and challenges of early language.  Although Middle English manuscripts appear very foreign at first, we find that early speakers of English had many of the same goals for their language use that we do: conducting business, expressing love, creating meaning, telling stories, teaching their children, insulting their neighbors.  This class explores these purposes for language, finding the shared ground of English users over the centuries while analyzing our differences.  No background in linguistics or medieval literature is required.  This course satisfies the pre-1900 requirement.

 

II.  Texts

1.  A Book of Middle English, 3rd. edition.  J. A. Burrow and Thorlac Turville-Petre.  Oxford, Blackwell, 2005.

2.  Coursepack, available at Ave Copy: 4141 S. University.

 

3. Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.  (I ordered the Signet Edition because it is cheap.  If you have another non-modernized version, that will be fine.)

 


III.  Evaluation

i.  Paper (25%)

Students will write a short paper (2-3 pages, doublespaced, Times or Times New Roman 12 point font). 

ii.  Participation and homework (25%)

This course aims to foster an intellectual community in which we explore issues of medieval language and culture together.  For this to succeed, you must attend the classes and be ready to discuss the assigned readings.  One of the primary activities that you will be doing for this class is modernizations.  More than three absences will negatively affect your grade.

iii. Midterm and final exams (40%)

The midterm and final exams will be cumulative, though the final will be weighted more towards the material covered in the second half of the term.  Attendance at both are required, and no makeups will be offered. 

iv.  Oral performance (10%)

To appreciate the sound of Middle English, it is important that we engage with poetry as oral performance.  To this end, you will be memorizing the first 18 lines of the Canterbury Tales and performing them for me in the fourth week of term.

 

 

IV.  Policy on Electronics

Electronic devices can be a great boon to your education, and we will employ them as research tools throughout the term.  During class, however, laptops, cell phones, and e-readers can be distracting, both for you and for your classmates.  Please keep all electronic devices off and stowed away until the aircraft has reached the gate.

 

IV.  Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another’s work as your own.  The University of Washington takes a very dim view of plagiarism.  For more information, see the University’s policies at: <http://depts.washington.edu/grading/conduct/honesty.html>.  Infractions will result in a grade of ‘X’ and be referred to the Dean's Representative for Academic Conduct.

 

V.  Disabilities

If you have a documented disability that requires special accommodations, please let me know as soon as possible so that necessary arrangements can be made.

 

VI.  Contact Me

I will be happy to address brief questions over email.  If you have more involved questions, I will be glad to speak to you in office hours or by appointment.


VIII.  Schedule

 

Note about reading: Reading Middle English (especially Early Middle English) is hard going at first.  If you have taken a literature class in a foreign language, the reading may feel more like that than like reading present-day English lit.  Remember how you read all 3000 pages of Game of Thrones in a weekend?  Yes.  This will not be like that.  Plan to take the Middle English readings slowly.  Try reading texts aloud to assist in decoding unfamiliar forms, take lots of notes, and make frequent use of your glossary (for EME, you may have to look up every other word).  The secondary readings, on the other hand, are provided for your reference and to supplement and reinforce the material we cover in class.  Do not spend too much time on these.  Skim away. 

 

Week 1: Introduction

Sept. 25  introduction

 

Week 2: Middle English overview

early Middle English external history; overview of syntax and lexicon

Sept. 30  read: from the Paston Letters, Horobin and Smith, ch. 1-2 (coursepack)

Oct. 2  read: from The Book of John Mandeville (cp)

 

Week 3: Middle English in use

ME textual genres; multilingual Britain

Oct. 7  read: Baugh and Cable, ch. 5 pp. 108-126 (cp)

Oct. 9  read: from the Brut (Book of Middle English), due: modernization

 

Week 4: Spelling and sounds

pronouncing Middle English, variation, religious literature

Oct. 14  read: Baugh and Cable, ch. 7 pp. 158-199 (cp), ch. 2 BME

Oct. 16  read: from Ancrene Wisse (BME), due: modernization

 

Week 5: Manuscripts and writing

manuscript variation; paleography/codicology

Oct. 20  oral recitations

Oct. 21  read: Horobin and Smith, ch. 3 (cp) visit special collections

Oct. 23  No class

 

Week 6: Dialects of ME

regional dialects, genre

Oct. 28  read: Canterbury Tales ch. 7 BME

Oct. 30  read: Canterbury Tales;

 

Week 7: Lexicon

words, lexical borrowing, language contact, late ME external history

Nov. 4 midterm exam

Nov. 6 read: ch. 3 BME; Baugh and Cable ch 6 (pp. 127-157)

 

Week 8: Poetics & Meter

reading ME poetry; the early history of meter in English poetry

Nov. 11 No Class: Veterans' Day

Nov. 13 read: read: from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (BME), due: modernization; ch. 6 BME

 

Week 9: Syntax & Morphology

grammatical structure of Middle English

Nov. 18 paper due   read: from Pearl (BME), due: modernization

Nov. 20 read: from the Shewings of Julian of Norwich (cp); ch 4-5 BME

 

Week 10: Language & Society

social organization, looking towards Early Modern English

Nov. 25 read: read: the Flood from the York Mystery Plays (cp)

conduct manuals: How the Goode Wife Taught Hyr Doughter & How the Goode Man Taght his Sone (cp)

Nov. 27  No class: Thanksgiving

 

Week 11: Summing up

Dec. 2  read: secular lyrics on marriage (select from internet), due: edition

Dec. 4  medievalism and the reception of Middle English

 

Final Exam: Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30-12:20, THO 119

Additional Details:

This course investigates the language and culture of the Middle English period in England (1100-1500). We will examine Middle English texts with an eye to the cultural importance of written material and the shifting roles of literacy in early England. We will consider different kinds of texts: letters, instruction manuals, poems, saints' lives, court documents, scientific treatises, and religious or mystical writings. In our readings, we will encounter the differing relationships of English speakers to their language: the ways that French, English and Latin coexisted in this period, the ways that regional dialects of English divided up the linguistic landscape, the use of literacy as a means for ecclesiastical authority, the importance of gender for the use and change of English, the function of written texts prior to the advent of print culture.
Along the way, we will learn to read Middle English, and experience the excitement and challenges of early language. Although Middle English manuscripts appear very foreign at first, we find that early speakers of English had many of the same goals for their language use that we do: conducting business, expressing love, creating meaning, telling stories, teaching their children, insulting their neighbors. This class explores these purposes for language, finding the shared ground of English users over the centuries while analyzing our differences. No background in linguistics or medieval literature is required. This course satisfies the pre-1900 requirement.

Catalog Description: 
Explores the language and culture of the Middle English period in England (1100-1500). Examines Middle English texts, the cultural importance of written material, the shifting roles of literacy in early England, the relationship to French and Latin, the regional dialects of English in the period, and manuscript culture. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
March 15, 2016 - 3:31pm