ENGL 3376: Medieval Literature

Fall 2021   |  Half unit of credit | Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 – 1:15 |
Dr. Anna Smol  | Email: anna.smol@msvu.ca  | @AnnaMSmol

Course description

This course will examine 13th – and 14th -century travel narratives, imaginative geographies, and pilgrimage experiences. From the first Norse contact with Indigenous North Americans recounted in the Vinland Sagas to selected tales by Geoffrey Chaucer’s pilgrims on the road to Canterbury, we will explore movements of people in both fact and fiction. Our readings will include Margery Kempe’s account of her pilgrimages to Europe and Jerusalem; Ibn Battuta’s extensive travels in Africa and Asia; the fantastical quest into the wilderness in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and the popular adventures attributed to John Mandeville. These English, French, Norse, and Arabic sources will be read in modern English translations, except for Chaucer’s tales, which we will learn to read in Middle English. Throughout the course, we will examine the racial, religious, and gender boundaries that are either crossed or defended in these various narratives of cultural encounters around the world.

Pre-requisites: Although the minimum requirement for an upper-level seminar course such as this one is successful completion of one unit of literature at the 1000 level, it is strongly recommended that you have some experience in a 2000-level English course before registering in a senior seminar.

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