English 240 - Fall, 2015

Medieval Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Chaganti, Seeta
CRN: 73377
Time: M 3:10-6:00
Location: 120 Voorhies
Breadth: Earlier British
Focus: Genre, Interdiscipline, Method, Theory


    The Premodern Lyric

    This course responds to the current widespread interest in formalist study and New Formalism; as such it will be useful to students working in a broad variety of fields. We will use late-medieval English lyrics to alter and expand our understanding of the meaning of lyric mode and genre. Medieval lyrics suggestively resist many modern tenets underlying the study of the lyric, including the construct of lyric voice, the affective quality of the overheard, and the relationship of the lyric object to the printed page. In this class, we will re-evaluate modern theories of lyric through the lens of premodern lyric genres and the distinctive poetic activity they represent. We will explore the various levels of material context that inform the medieval lyric’s identity, from its incorporation into sermons, to its close relationship to music, to its often charged status in manuscript transmission. But we will also use these poems to deepen our understanding of poetic genre, form, and formal reading. Readings will all be available as pdfs on Smartsite.


    Students will submit weekly response papers along with a final paper of 10-15 pages.


    Preachers, Poets, and the Early English Lyric, Siegfried Wenzel
    "The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript", Andrew Taylor
    Medieval Lyric: Genres in Historical Contexts, William Paden
    The Carol: A Study of a Medieval Dance, Robert Mullally
    "Theory of Genres and Medieval Literature", Hans-Robert Jauss
    Medieval English Lyrics: A Critical Anthology, R. T Davies
    The Early English Carol, R. L. Greene
    Medieval English Lyrics and Carols, Thomas Duncan
    "For a Poetics of Verse", Simon Jarvis
    Songbook, Marisa Galvez
    The Medieval Lyric, Peter Dronke
    "Past Future and Present Past", Giovan Battista D'Alessio
    "Dance in a Haunted Space", Seeta Chaganti
    "Poems without Contexts", J. A. Burrow
    "Reading the Forms of Sir Thopas", Jessica Brantley