MEMS 260 - Special Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Section: 001
Term: FA 2014
Subject: Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)
Department: LSA History
Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:

In this course, students are expected to become familiar with representative examples of Romance literatures and cultures in the early period, including an understanding of the names of authors and works, literary and cultural movements, the spread and influence of different cultural products around the Mediterranean and France, and the early history of the formation of the Romance Languages out of Latin in the Middle Ages.

This course involves a broad, historical survey of the emergence of Romance literatures and cultures from the Middle Ages up to 1650, with the goal of introducing early examples of Romance literatures through translation. It is taught wholly in English and incorporates selected readings in translation of the representative works of the various Romance traditions, including Spanish, Italian, and French, as well as smaller Romance language populations such as Provençal, Catalan, and Galician. It may also include other examples of Romance cultural expression such as visual cultures and music.

It traces the emergence of the Romance Languages out of Latin in the Middle Ages, comparing the rise and spread of literature and cultural expression in the vernacular in various contexts. It differs from other courses on “Western” literature by focusing only on the Romance Languages and excluding German, English, Greek, and Scandinavian literatures, thus centering on the Western Mediterranean and its cultures.

Readings include early epic poems from Spain and France (Song of Roland, Song of the Cid), early prose stories and fables (Marie de France, Don Juan Manuel, Boccaccio), the Divine Comedy of Dante, the Luciadas of Camoes, lyric poetry from the different traditions, and early examples of prose fiction (Rabelais, Cervantes).

The discussions and short explication paper will teach students to think about this literature in an analytical, critical way. By studying representative works the early Romance tradition, students will gain an important understanding of the evolution of European culture in the early periods, and will also come to understand how European languages and traditions of the Mediterranean have been influenced by a broad, multicultural environment including Jewish, Christian, and Muslims writers. Students will acquire a firm grasp of the origins of the “humanities” in the context of early Mediterranean cultures. Although designed as an independent one-semester course with no prerequisites, it will work in tandem with ROMLANG 242, “Introduction to Modern and Contemporary Romance Literatures and Cultures” to provide students with the option of a broad survey of the emergence of the Romance Literatures across all periods.

All Readings and discussion will be in English.

Course Requirements:

4 short summary papers to cover readings (2 pages each), 2 midterm exams (1 hour each, including identification of terms and facts, short answer, and short essay), 1 final exam— (2 hours, including identification of terms and facts, short answer, and short essay), 1 short Explication of Text paper (4 pages, analyzing a selection of the readings in detail), Attendance (both lecture and discussion), and Participation (in discussion)

Intended Audience:

Undergraduates, especially Freshmen and Sophomores, from any major, with an interest in literature, culture, and European history. This course will introduce the major works of Romance Literatures through translation, possibly leading students to pursue further study in RLL as a major or minor. This course can be can be taken as first in a sequence with ROMLANG 242 (Introduction to Modern and Contemporary Romance Literatures and Cultures) or on its own.

Class Format:

3 meetings per week, 50 minutes each. One class period will be devoted to a lecture, and two class periods will be devoted to discussion of readings, all taught by the professor.

MEMS 260 - Special Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MWF 10:00AM - 11:00AM
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