Courses: Topics in Medieval English: The Hundred Years War and the Production of Literary Culture (COMLH301A01)

Fall 2007

Cross-listed in English
Enrollment limited to 15 students.
The century when England and France were at war with each other (ca 1360-1450) is also the century which witnesses the transformation of the English vernacular, the “mother tongue”, into a literary language. This course brings together texts in on different subjects, in different genres, to explore the formation of both English and French literary culture in this period. We will read some French courtly poetry, English lyrics by authors like Chaucer who were inspired by French models, and English poems of the so-called “alliterative revival” which seem to lay claim to a sort of “native” authenticity. We will consider what makes some of the great spiritual writings of the period (texts by Richard Rolle, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe) characteristically English, and we will try to recover some sense of what Middle English pop culture might have consisted of by reading dramas and popular lyric, and by listening to fourteenth century music. We will consider several longer narrative works (the Alliterative Morte Arthur, Lydgate’s Troy Book) to see how they operate to create a sense of self-conscious national identity. Finally, we will read accounts of the war itself and its major participants, from Froissart’s Chronicles to Christine de Pizan’s Poem of Joan of Arc, in order to determine the ways in which a century of constant military conflict created both national identity and literary culture on both sides of the channel.

Syllabus: View course syllabus

Two courses in Engl at the 200 level or consent of instructor.

Fulfills: HU III


Haverford, Stokes 119

Meeting Times

M 7:30-10:00pm