ENGL 200 B: Reading Literary Forms

From Manuscript to Mass Market: Medieval Literature and Contemporary Adaptations

Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 10:30am - 11:20am
Location: 
CDH 105
SLN: 
14327
Instructor:
Brian on the streets of Seattle
Brian Hardison

Syllabus Description:

With the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, Europe was plunged into what is often termed the Dark Ages---a period of relative cultural, economic, intellectual, and political stagnation that continued until the Renaissance brought about a new era. Indeed, the word “medieval” is frequently used to suggest that something is barbaric or unenlightened while the term “Middle Ages” (an English translation of the Latin medii aevi---from which we derive the word “medieval”) implies a period between the two fixed points of Classical Antiquity and the Renaissance.

But was it such a cultural wasteland? Should we consider the medieval period as an epistemological whole? If it wasn’t, why do we think that it was? If we shouldn’t, how should we think about the medieval? What can our beliefs about the medieval tell us about ourselves? What, if anything, can the medieval teach us in this digital age?

This course seeks to question this popular impression of the Middle Ages as a barbaric, uncultured, anti-intellectual, and uninspired period by exploring the history and literature of the British Isles and Scandinavia. By considering selected texts produced by medieval authors alongside the contemporary adaptations that they inspired, we will seek a better understanding of the medieval cultures that co-existed in the British Isles and the enduring relevance of their literature. As part of their introduction to medieval literature, students will learn learn about manuscript production and visit Special Collections to engage with medieval artefacts. Primary readings will likely include Beowulf, selections from The Mabinogion, an Icelandic saga, along with contemporary adaptations, including works by Neil Gaiman, episodes of Vikings, and a short novel. Assessment will be based, in part, on periodic reading quizzes and reading responses, as well as a take-home midterm written exam and a final course project (6-10 pages). This course fulfills the University of Washington’s writing (‘W’) requirement.

Additional Details:

This course seeks to question the popular impression of the Middle Ages as a barbaric, uncultured, anti-intellectual, and uninspired period by exploring the history and literature of the British Isles and Scandinavia. By considering selected texts produced by medieval authors alongside the contemporary adaptations that they inspired, we will seek a better understanding of the medieval cultures that co-existed in the British Isles and the enduring relevance of their literature. As part of their introduction to medieval literature, students will learn learn about manuscript production and visit Special Collections to engage with medieval artefacts. Primary readings will likely include Beowulf, selections from The Mabinogion, an Icelandic saga, along with contemporary adaptations, including works by Neil Gaiman, episodes of Vikings, and a short novel. Assessment will be based, in part, on periodic reading quizzes and reading responses, as well as a take-home midterm written exam and a final course project (6-10 pages). This course fulfills the University of Washington’s writing (‘W’) requirement.

Catalog Description: 
Covers techniques and practice in reading and enjoying literature in its various forms: poetry, drama, prose fiction, and film. Examines such features of literary meanings as imagery, characterization, narration, and patterning in sound and sense. Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:31pm