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ENGL 200- Medieval Unit.docx

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Department
English
Course
ENGL 200
Professor
Gwynn Dujardin
Semester
Fall

Description
Sept 13, 2013 Problems in Literary History: Terminology • Medieval (middle ages) works written in Latin o "middle ages" coined term to refer to the period between the collapse of the Roman empire an the so called "rebirth" of classicism in the "Renaissance" (roughly 5th - 15th centuries) • Renaissance (French word for rebirth signifies what historians thought as "recuperation" in culture and literature) o valued the classic works o period of "rebirth" implies that there was a period of "death" in culture o evaluates works in a very narrow lens • "Early Modern" --> judgement free o refer to roughly 13th - 18th century --> very large range of time where historically very different events happened Medieval, Latin, "middle ages": the middle of what?? • captures a later understanding of the past (related to Rome) • Latin --> reflects the classiness of the values at the time Significant political events and social developments • Roman Empire controls S. England from ca. 43-410 CE. • "Britons" in "Scotland" and "Wales" • 5th C settling of Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes) • 597 CE (AD), St. Augustine of Canterbury, on assignment from Pope Gregory: conversion to Christianity o Anglo-Saxon: Bede, Beowulf Chronicle • late 8th - early 11th Cs, "Viking invasion": Anglo-Saxon England under siege o King Alfred • 1066, "Norman invasion": under French rule until ca. 1154 o Marie de France • 1154-1585: House of Plantagenet reconsolidation english rule o 1215: Magna Carta, establishing contract of feudal law, signed by King John and nobility o 1337-1453 England and France fight for crown in Hundred Years War o 1348-1350: plague, aka "the Black Death," decimates island's population • House of Plantegenet: consolidates English rule (though internally divided) o Chaucer • 1348-1350, plague: "the Black Death" decimates island's population o York play, mystery play • Late 15C: Printing press arrives in London (1476) and Henry of Lancaster defeats Richard of York to found the House of Tudor; humanism aspires to recuperate history and literature of ancient Greece and Rome "Barbarian" • "bar-bar" --> incoherent speech to Latin speakers • term applied to certain cultural groups based on what they perceived as their linguistic inadequacy (uncivilized compared to the civilization of ancient Rome) Introduction to Medieval Literature Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorium, Caedmon's Hymn Title: ecclesiastical History of the English People • "ecclesiastical" --> of the church (CHURCH history of the English people) • title suggests the teleological nature of conversion • written for the audience of other learned members of the church • out of the 5 languages that existed in Britain, Latin was the "official language" o was the most elevated one o Bede wrote this work in Latin to show that he was part of the Church --> shows that he is learned and iterate from studying scripture • serpent symbolism: Irish were converted to Christianity much quicker than the English o reptiles like serpents died once they were exposed to the air on the island --> "satan" dying with the Irish conversion • Bede's account of Edwin's conversion is sometimes caught between its contradictory impulses towards hagiography ("holy writing" - conversion is described as a personal journey to faith, punctuated by miracles) and political history (conversion is seen as an act of royal policy) o the nature of the narrative: Edwin's persistent deferral of converting draws the reader in with the teleological expectation that he will convert... when will he convert? why? why not? o under contract to convert but is reluctant to do it o drawing out this narrative identify with those who wish for him to convert --> until as readers, we want him to convert o he turned to his own counsel of advisors: his chiefs see Christianity not just for the material benefits of it, second advisor actually sees the spiritual truth and necessity of being nourished by Christianity (the gifts of life, salvation, eternal happiness) o --> After Edwin witnesses his miracles, he becomes a key figure to spreading Christianity to his people  was so devoted to the true worship that he also persuaded Eorpwald, son of Raedwad and king of the east Saxons to abandon their idolatrous superstitions and accept Christianity  later effect --> downwards trickling effect : Edwin's conversion sets a domino effect for others in his kingdom from king to peasant o no political unity in England  Edwin prevails to other leaders in other tribes to convert to Christianity too Key terms: teleological, hagiography, Albion, Brittanica, British, English, barbarian, gospel, verse • Teleological: history effectively told with an end in mind o telos : greek word of "end" o the text has a certain end in mind in representing England as a Christian nation • structure of the text: moves from body --> spirit : the landscape to spiritual concerns --> represents the conversion of Edwin and H_____ With the abundance of grain on the island, the focus on material wealth draws them away from focusing on God, --> giving into sinful nature • sins of self indulgence, gluttony • the way Bede writes reflects Christian values • events in England are interpreted through the lens of scripture Christian values of modesty and humility contrasted between Beowolf values - treasure, material rewards, bravery, courage, heroic acts, acts of physical achievements are rewarded with material rewards Week 2: Sept 18-20, 2013 Key terms: Hagoigraphy, scriptorium, scribe, verse, alliterative verse, historiography, chronicle, manuscript, illuminated manuscript, gospel, kenning Mode and means of transmission- Bede's word was transmitted on a manuscript • handwritten document on parchment, the best quality of which is vellum (Latin for "made from calf) • copied by scribes in a scriptorium lodged in a monastery, delivered on foot to other monasteries • initially gathered and preserved in scrolls, then in codex (Latin for block of wood) in which the parchment is folded together in what resembles a book (but is not printed by a press) • illuminated manuscript: manuscript decorated with pigmented ornament and illustration, and often in gold: symbols and images visually complement text Audience: learned individuals in Latin Monasteries were responsible for educating other monks, transmitting social values • Bede's manuscript used to describe and participate in making the "lateral movement" of Christianity among those on the higher end of literacy to have the trickledown effect to less learned individuals --> participates in the very conversion that the text describes • the beauty of the texts themselves also transmit and convey the beauty of God Hagoigraphy- holy writing • saints held up as examples of how Christians are supposed to live • Edwin's story resembles this genre of writing (resisting conversion, experiences God, transforms values and is given spiritual life, spreads his faith to others) Gospel from Old English, good spell (news) - the telling of the story of these saints Greek: angel- messenger, Latin: evangel - one who spreads the good news How does Caedmon compare to King Edwin? Verse: from Latin: vertere, to turn convert: from Latin, convertere, con (all together) / vert, turn, to turn around "Handmaiden" : The more she submits to Christ, the more she rises in her worldly authority, until her death finally rises up to heaven Women played a vital role in the spreading of Christianity in Medieval times • women in position of authority to take people in from the local village and train them up in Christianity, to teach them to be a monk How does Caedmon's story affect your understanding of the perceptibly poetic passages in the chronicle? • conversion of form: Caedmon takes what he learns in the formal sense into verse ("to turn into verse") • turns scripture into another form of verse, which in turn turns other people to conversion • Caedmon's hymn is circulated orally --> putting teachings in scripture into a form that less learned individuals can understand • Caedmon reluctant to participate in the communal act of singing • --> PARALLEL TO EDWIN BEING RELUCTANT TO CONVERT --> takes time to convert o characters from opposite ends of the political scale but they both have the reluctance to participate in what they're supposed to do o but then when both convert, their lives have an important role in spreading Christianity How does Bede represent the conversion of England to Christianity ? • England is resistant and reluctant to converting • resistance places an even heavier importance on Christianity --> shows the WORTH of conversion after going through the TRIAL PERIOD • --> reluctance also testifies to the gift of God bestowed on Caedmon and Edwin • --> TESTIFIES TO THEIR TRANSFORMATION: can't have done it by themselves, must have been from the spirit of God working in them (Caedmon's teacher's became his audience) • they called Caedmon a coward, like the beast cow. Cows chewing their cud, ruminate: to digest something slowly o emphasis on CONVERSION TAKING EFFORT OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, IS NOT AN INSTANTANEOUS PROCESS o also moving from the herd of the cows, to the transition of joining the herd of the monks • anglo saxons: have their own agenda, tough independent thinking crowd Eucharist: sacrament wherein a host- bread and wine is turned by a priest to the body and blood of Christ • viacticum- "last rites" • turns the bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ prosody (the study of poetic measures and versification): (Germanic) alliterative verse, repetition of sound We also see the recognition of the most effective way to convert the anglo saxons to Christianity is to deliver the gospel in English (their own language) • see the progression of language: calling them barbarians --> using verse to convert In Caedmon's hymn • God appears many times • also in many forms • metaphor: turning and transformation marks the omnipresence of God in His many different forms • concludes Bede's text by turning to the rest of English society and representing God as already omnipresent Week 2: Sept 20, 2013 Key terms: orthography, compound words, epic (poetry), runes: edth, thorn, alliterative verse, scop, Latin (alphabet), kenning, interlacement • significant events and social developments • modes and means of transmission and reception • linguistic features of the vernacular: Old English, ie Anglo-Saxon • characteristics of form, genre, and style: chronicle; Anglo-Saxon poetry o Hwaet Speaking and hearing "Caedmon's Hymn" and the Prologue to Beowulf o Beowulf: focus esp on 1,24 Features of Anglo-Saxon (OE) Orthography ("right writing, what we call spelling"): (a method of spelling by the use of an alphabet or system of symbols) recorded in hybrid of Roman alphabet and runes, an older symbolic writing system: thorn, edth • how the letters appear to us in writing • nearly all the vowels are spoken (ie. no "silent e" diphthongs represented graphically), eg. meahte • "y" used to represent the "th" sound --> ie. ye = the • "ae" ligature --> signifying a diphthong creating a new vowel sound Vocabulary: lots of "concrete", monosyllabic nouns designating objects in everyday life eg. hus, wyf • words created by combining existing words: compound words eg. man-kind • poetic valence- creates a metaphorical resonance with compound words (combining words to create new meaning) • "middle earth" --> gradual way that conversion is affected (heaven, earth, hell) therefore man lives on middle earth • many ways of referring to God, trying to create a description to describe creation: Heaven- kingdom's guardian, the Maker, glory-father, eternal Lord, Holy Creator, middle-earth mankind's guardian, Lord almighty • "bread keeper" --> God having the responsibility of keeping and distributing the bread to His people (Lord's prayer: give us this day our daily bread) • "scop" - poet --> God is a poet, shaping the world Grammar and syntax (word order): appears elliptical and non-linear to us: verbs often lead sentences, with subjects and objects appearing "bit by bit" • subject, verb, object, prepositional phrase • Anglo-Saxon- verb coming first, eventually other information being given to reader bit by bit Word endings- inflections- determine part of speech; sounds indicate things such as tense (I run, I ran) Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon poetry: • transmitted orally, in songs; by a scop, poet (verses are memorized and sung to large gatherings of people) Alliterative verse: lines of poetry structured by/with consonant clusters (alliteration) on stressed words; full lines comprise two half-lines separated by pronounced pause, or caesura • adaptation of concrete vocabulary to Christian- ie spiritual- framework kennings: compound words that carry particular metaphorical resonance; enigmatic, even riddling; eg wale-road (the ocean), wave-cutter (another way of saying ship in a more vocative way), bone-locker (skeleton), wordum wixlan, word weaving • Caedmon's Hymn: "wuldorfaeder" --> literally glory father --> father of glory --> God epic (genre) • "ancient" or "classical": transmitted orally in song • features singular hero figure who embodies cultural values; hero overcomes challenges, trials • heroic quest plot line • represents the values of a culture • punctuated by digression that represent challenge, but provide occasions for storytelling (overcoming trials and challenges, road home isn't linear) • tangential narrative- narrator going on a tangent to talk about something else o provides info about past characters that we should compare to the name characters to better understand/ contrast/ parallel characteristics o tells more info about the culture Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf interlacing tangential comparisons interwoven with main narrative  (1) Beowulf.  th Thth“Beowulf” that we have was an oral poem that circulated for some time before it was recorded in writing between the 8  and  10  centuries: that is, after the invasions by the Vikings, those tribes who are represented in the poem, but before the “Norman invasion” by  the French in 1066. In Friday’s class I talked about characteristics of Anglo­Saxon poetry that we can associate with features of the Anglo­Saxon language.  That is, when we understand how people spoke in their everyday language, a.k.a. the vernacular, we can better appreciate how their poetry  is structured, both overall in terms of storytelling — the narrative — and at the level of the single line — the prosody (rhythm): A. Seeing how consonant­heavy the sounds of Anglo­Saxon speech are, we can understand how the poetry is structured through  alliteration, as consonants that lie at the beginning of the words and which are stressed throughout each line (we can contrast this to  rhyme, which structures lines according to vowel sounds at the end of lines).  B. Understanding that in Anglo­Saxon, new words are often formed by pairing two existing words — creating compound words —  we see how certain combinations of words carry special metaphorical resonance. It’s as though Anglo­Saxon poetry turns the concrete  everyday terms of Old English in to new meanings, with senses that are often abstract or conceptual. “Caedmon’s Hymn” is an excellent  example of this, as the poet takes everyday terms (“guardian,” “roof,” “Lord”) and turns them into spiritual ideas of God. (With this, I am  also echoing our discussion of “verse” turning words into poetry, which serves to convert others: the composition of the poem, its  kennings, *effect that conversion from one thing to another.)  C. The grammar of Anglo­Saxon often puts verbs towards the front of a “sentence,” then fills in the rest of the idea circuitously with  other necessary and related information. From this we might understand how action gets described circuitously as well, not taking the  linear start­to­finish approach that, say, Bede does, but going about storytelling in what to us feels like a more roundabout way. Indeed epic is a form of narrative poetry, which tells a story (versus lyric poetry, which focuses on the subjective point of view of an  individual speaker). And as you’ve no doubt noticed in your reading, there are lots of digressions from the main narrative in Beowulf:  a poem that we expect to be a story about the figure of Beowulf takes lots of circuitous twists and turns describing other figures and events  in Scandinavian history and lore. Digressions are a conventional figure in epic, as the hero of the epic is typically diverted from his  main quest by challenges he must overcome, indeed trials he must endure or surmount to complete his quest (Odysseus is a  paradigmatic example). In Beowulf, however, the digressions involve other figures — which is not to say that they don’t relate to the main  figure. Rather, *together the stories *interrelate to reinforce the values of the culture as a whole; the figures that are appear in the  midst of Beowulf’s narrative tend either to be figures like him, to reinforce the values of his particular strengths, or figures unlike  him, to bring his strengths into relief through contrast. Though the narrative is not linear, it is all related and held together by dominant  strands reinforcing the values of the culture.  Look at the Anglo­Saxon buckle in the gloss image beside page XL: we have there a *visual figure that corresponds to the structure of the  narrative; it is interwoven, with loops and turns that fold into one another. We typically call the narrative style of Beowulf “interlacing”  to capture those circuitous patterns. For Wednesday, with that understanding of the elliptical structure of the text, we’ll want to consider the cultural values that Beowulf itself  transmits and upholds as a whole. What matters in/to this society? Where/when/how does Christianity figure in the poem’s “interlacing”  depictions of tribe, battle, and reward? Once again, how do we see England converting from a pagan to a Christian society? Specifically:  1. Section1, lines 64­114; section 2, 146­163. What image of a “Lord” does Hrothgar represent? What precisely prompts Grendel’s ire and  his campaign against Hrothgar and his kin? 2. Section 24 (in its entirety), to line 1784 in section 25. This section appears after Beowulf has defeated Grendel’s mother, when Beowulf  presents Hrothgar with “Hrunting,” the sword, and Hrothgar praises him (with a digression on Heremod). How do tribal values relate to  Christian values here? What role does the digression about Heremod play? Looking at those two sections closely will enable you to approach any portion of the text, now and in the future. I will then make some  observations related to Beowulf’s battle with the dragon in the latter half of the poem. Let’s see, hmmm … in this tale, a small unknown  thief makes his way into a hoard of treasure long claimed by a fiery dragon… That’s right, folks, it's The Hobbit coming soon to a theatre  near you. More important to our purposes, though, there are elements of Beowulf’s fight with the dragon that will recur through other epics  we will read, and I’ll point them out so you’re alert to them when we get to The Faerie Queene and Paradise Lost in our unit on the  Renaissance. We’ll then look at King Alfred’s preface to Gregory the Great’s “Pastoral Care” and “Chevrefoil” by Marie de France. King Alfred’s reign  was defined by his battles against the Vikings, in which he eventually prevailed enough so that he could turn to other cultural projects.  Specifically, Alfred makes it a point of his reign to transcribe, record, and preserve Latin manuscripts in Anglo­Saxon. The  “Preface” in your reading fronts his translation of a Latin Christian text from the 5  century — think something like Bede — into English.  In this way, you should read this letter as a counterpoint to Bede’s history and its representations of languages in England. What continues,  what has changed?  Well, a huge change occurs in 1066 with the invasion of William the Conqueror and the rule of the French. We call the language  spoken during this (roughly) century and a half “Anglo­Norman.” (Ironically, the word Norman comes from “North man,” to refer to  the Vikings who also invaded the north of France!) The “lay” represents a form of narrative poetry we call romance. As with epic,  romance involves separation and travel, tests and trials, and then, ideally, homecoming (the structure of Beowulf). How does this  story compare to Beowulf? What continues, what changes? What’s new here?  Though the “lay” frequently tells myths from the legend of  King Arthur, the story of “Chevrefoil” tells that of Tristan and Isolt, effectively the model for Romeo and Juliet. As her name suggests,  “Marie de France” was a woman — a highly educated noble woman — from France. Though we don’t know her exact identity, we know  she lived in England for a good portion of her life when the country was under French rule. How does her text represent “English  literature” at the time? These two brief texts mark the transition from early to late medieval, and specifically to the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and  specifically The Canterbury Tales. As much as they reinforce the pattern of repeated social upheaval and cultural redefinition in the early  medieval era, they will also enable you both to enjoy and appreciate the infamously bawdy “Wife of Bath’s Tale” a great deal more.  Sept 25: key terms- scop, interlacement, interlinear gloss, lay, romance, courtly love Anglo-Saxon grammar tends to lead off with an action --> then sentence (a unit of thought) gets filled in with the subject and other information • elliptical sentence structures made from elliptical thought units, creating an elliptical narrative • elliptical structure of the train of thought, visualized through the interlacing threads on the buckle on the manuscript/cover of the book • Beowulf is about having lots of action, reflects the values and culture at the time • we're used to the linear unit of thought (subject-verb-object) Text opens with "Listen!" - exclamation to get your attention First sentence: give us a vague yet specific idea of what it's going to be about. Time period : bygone days. People: spear danes, noble lords. Action: lofty deeds that are going to be retold, glory in bygone days • explains the importance of the story • tells us of what they valued at the time: lofty deeds, events of attaining glory, are the things that are notable to be recorded and passed down orally/written • gets to the action "thesis statement", this is what's important, this is what everyone should know Initial digression- tangential comparison • threads loop around to lead back to highlight the main thread valiant battle is what defines the figure of Hrothgar • also see the proper role and responsibilities of the lord: provide shelter and food, give rewards to those who fight on the community's behalf • the anglo saxon word "lord" is now adapted to the present day word Lord as the heavenly father who provides for the spiritual health, safety, and well being of his people • shows how he's a strong glorious king because everyone just listens to what he says o people listen to him not out of fear, but out of respect and admiration of a king that was so mighty in battle • his story gets orally transmitted throughout the kingdom • "mighty men" ... "men" keeps getting repeated --> now that these young soldiers are ready to fight, now they've become real "men" Grendel - "the fiend from Hell" (101) • psalms presented in relation to this oral culture that unifies it's community through the transmission of song • references that come from Christianity: Grendel related to Cain who killed his own brother • in a culture which values the sense of community, contrasts to Grendel who lives isolated from the rest of the community • he is religiously not with the community- fights against Christianity • Grendel being associated with an older pagan culture which makes him evil o is alienated from the community which renders him alien • is exiled from the community, now wants to get revenge on them who exiled him • loaded with negative language- narrator was trying to paint a picture to get people to hate Grendel, get the reader on Beowulf's side • uses repetition of negative descriptive words to leave no doubt o commentary to get people to convert to Christianity (or else you'll be separated from the community like Grendel) o storytelling: use language that speaks to the audience: speaking to Christians, so easiest way to paint Grendel as an evil person = like Cain • Cain and Able: brother to brother loyalty and bond, interfamily betrayal o no greater sin of killing own kinsmen: Cain kills his brother- Grendel kills members in his community o value of brotherhood: when Beowulf fights the dragon, only one of the kinsmen went back to fight alongside him. Other men weren't so distraught about Beowulf dying, but that they betrayed him in fleeing and not sticking by his side in battle Descriptions of Beowulf's defeat of Grendel Grendle's mother comes back for revenge, kills one of king's men Beowulf kills Grendel's mother Lofty deeds: • mention of rewards, transactions that take place • increasing amount of references to the Christian God that who guided the hero into battle • tangential references contrast and highlight the characteristics that are valued, what a good leader should be like • all tension between the 2 tribes are resolved Beowulf returns home and recounts the story from his point of view • use of repetition • repetition of the Grendel story Dragon Smog hoarding the treasures that belongs to the men • like Grendel, who violates the code of community • Beowulf 50 years older decides to fight the dragon • foolish determination? in fighting for these cultural values by fighting the dragon o coming off as boarder line senile man? o in his denial of his age, it actually reveals his age (degradation of intellect) o PRIDE: reliving past glory? wanting to preserve himself in that glorious mould? o leaves his people behind as the king, leaves them exposed o --> there's a time where we have to hold on to these values of culture, but there's also a time to let them go • Beowulf standing along against the dragon (satan referenced as the dragon in the bible book of revelation) Christian reference • if Beowulf represents the values of this society vested in lofty heroic deeds, when he dies, also shows the next transition to the next set of cultural values September 27, 2013 Language • see the diversity of languages circulating in Medieval England (Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Anglo- Norman, Middle English, Late middle/early modern English) King Alfred translates works of Latin into Anglo-Saxon • also has them transmitted from oral delivery to recorded on written manuscripts • scribal translation for reiteration and replication • unified the English people through his monarchy • representing the unseen unity of England from elevating and preserving the vernacular language • if it weren't for King Alfred, we probably wouldn't have the Anglo Saxon works to study today Interlinear glosses - interpretations/ explications of the text • notes between the lines, a means of inserting an annotation into the text that explain a word or text that is in the manuscript • gloss - means 'interpret' Alfred's Preface • there was once an ideal time of great society, there was decay and deterioration, we need to restore that past society • wants to 'turn' the people, idea of conversion from few people being linguistic in Latin, to everyone learning to be linguistic in vernacular English Marie de France, Lais "Chevrefoil" • can infer that she was an exceptionally learned noble woman, especially in writing • Lay: the kind of song that tells those stories, a narrative poem intended to be sung • courtly love: unattainable love between knight and (typically) married noblewoman, who must conceal her own feelings • Romance: something written in the vernacular language (ie. French, what we now call a "romantic language" o a genre of narrative poetry that tells stories of knights related to court of King Arthur and their forbidden loves; knights -les chevaliers- display chivalry, ie. honour, adherence to moral and religious code • epic conventions: hero on a quest, encounters challenges and trials on the way to complete that journey, which involves a homecoming • in romance: also have a figure somewhat separated from the community, journey or quest for the love of a married noblewoman o values that get communicated: values associated with chivalry o knight serving the woman and pursuing her love but still maintaining that purity and chastity with her, abide by the strict moral code so he can display these social virtues Continuity and Change French • polysyllabic words, words referring to other more abstract ideas o vs Anglo-Saxon : monosyllabic words referring to very concrete words/ideas • fewer consonants, softer sounds, words flow/slur together • verse is more flowing, sounds more romantic • shift in connection between the lines and verses: AABBCCDD rhyming pattern (vowel sounds vs connected by consonant sounds) • similar to a prologue in Beowulf: tells the reader what's going to be told • seems much more polite, compared to Beowulf's "Listen!" o using more prepositions, polite etiquette reflected in the society • tone of the text: a lot more poetic sounding, expression of a feeling vs Beowulf: historical recording used for teaching religion • both texts- speaker saying I'm going to tell you stories that were told before but in different ways o Beowulf: pay attention to the heroic acts o chevrefoil: sense of privacy and interiority, feelings and emotions involved development of the concept of an author • shift of an idea of an author: more private, isolated on his/her own, in his/her room at a desk writing Tristan isolates himself to try to get over the queen, returns to see her as she passes by • to get her attention, writes on a tree nearby • a secret transaction, communication from the author to the reader, speaker to the receiver • extended metaphor: honeysuckle that holds on to the hazel tree marking their unity - consummating their relationship in the natural world in ways that they cannot do themselves in the social world • enabling the love to exist in the writing, the lay unites them and it lives on • turn his lay into her narrative (like how Bede translates Caedmon's hymn into his own prose) On Friday, I noted how we can start to map out the medieval period (as we will for subsequent literary periods) according to (1) major events and social developments (e.g., the migration of Angles, Saxons, and Jutes; the conversion of England to Christianity; the Viking invasions; the Norman conquest; and, imminently, the departure of the French and reign of the House of Plantagenet), (2) languages spoken and written in the period (Latin, Old English/Anglo-Saxon, Anglo- Norman, and, imminently, Middle English), (3) the modes and means by which texts were transmitted (in writing on vellum by manuscript, or orally), representative genres (chronicle, epic, romance, now estates satire and mystery play), and (4) according to concepts of the poet and/or author (the singular vision of the historian in chronicle, the communal voice of the Anglo-Saxon scop, the comparatively “private” voice of the speaker in the lay, and now a new variety of “author” in Chaucer, and communal contributions of lay (i.e., secular) performers in late medieval drama. We spent some time identifying differences between Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman, particularly in sound; just as we connected the stresses of alliterative verse to the consonant-heavy character of Anglo-Saxon, we connected the mellifluous cadences of Marie de France’s lay to the liquid sounds of Anglo-Norman. We could also see contributions to Modern English from Anglo-Norman — typically in polysyllabic words related to courtesy — but recognized that no language could make as much of an impact as Anglo-Saxon did. We noted striking distinctions between the masculine world of demonstrated martial skill and valor represented by the epic Beowulf and a new sense of the private represented in and through romance. As a literary genre, romance designates stories told (and retold) about the court of th
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