/ MED 422
- Spring 2011-2012
Loss and Longing in the Anglo-Saxon Era: Elegy & Elegaic
The "art of losing isn't hard to master," claims modern poet Elizabeth Bishop. Humans write elegies because we are shredded by loss. Yet, the genre of elegy in English isn't easy to account for. This course starts where English does--in the Anglo-Saxon period. Old English lyrics, prose reflections, and the epic Beowulf are searing witnesses to yearning and regret. Paradoxically, these texts celebrate loss, even as they console. What could be mourned, and who grieve? What is this "English" sense of loss? In readings comparative and critical, we'll discover how millenium-old speakers comprehended and perhaps mastered their losses.
Sample reading list:
Sermon of the Wolf to the English
Alfred the Great,
Preface to Pastoral Care
J. R. R. Tolkien,
The Return of the King
Reading assignments will not exceed 125 pages per week. Two papers, one of about 8-pages and the other of about 12 pages, will be assigned. Five informal one-page responses to the topics and texts discussed in the seminar must be submitted during the term. The take-home final exam, consisting of several short essays, will be open source. Students should be prepared for robust discussions each week.
Take Home Final Exam - 25%
Papers - 40%
Precept Participation - 25%
Other (See Instructor) - 10%
Not Open to Freshmen.
Prerequisites and Restrictions:
Although a knowledge of medieval literature and of the Old English language would be helpful, neither is assumed. Texts will be available both in their original languages and in Modern English translation. Supplementary reading gladly supplied by the instructor..
Distribution Requirement: British
Class number: 42928