Category Archives: Course description

Boethius at the Newberry Library

In winter quarter of 2019 I will teach a 10-week seminar on “Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and Its Afterlife” at the Newberry Library in Chicago. This course is open to graduate students at any of the consortium institutions of the … Continue reading

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The earliest English poetry

[English 390, offered Spring 2018] In English, as in other languages, poetry was at first an oral form: it was passed down in recitation, not writing. The Anglo-Saxons (that is, the English-speaking inhabitants of early medieval Britain) learned to write … Continue reading

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dreams and visions

“I dreamt a marvelous dream. Let me tell you about it.” That is the opening move in many of the greatest works of medieval literature; such works are called “dream visions.” Rooted ultimately in the Bible and ancient philosophy, dream … Continue reading

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Chaucer, Spring 2017

Geoffrey Chaucer was perhaps the greatest English poet prior to Shakespeare and remains one of the great literary innovators in this language. Writing at a time when English commanded little respect as a language of literature, Chaucer crafted a unique … Continue reading

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Boethius, Spring 2016

Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and Its Afterlife. Spring 2016. Course rationale.  Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy was one of the most influential literary texts in medieval Europe. From the time of its rediscovery in the Carolingian period, the Consolation was valued as … Continue reading

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“You must change your life”

[In this latest iteration of my composition seminar, I adopted an innovative capstone writing exercise from Daniel Jump: students each wrote an academic review of a classmate’s research essay, and had their own essay reviewed in turn. I bundled the … Continue reading

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ENGL 534: Piers Plowman (F2014)

A study of Piers Plowman, a poem probably authored by William Langland in three versions between the 1360s and about 1390. We read the earliest and latest of these versions. Simultaneously, we make studies of the poem’s form and languages; … Continue reading

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Middle English Alliterative Poetry: ENGL 402

[a course description, updated for the F14 iteration. In the previous iteration we read part of Cleanness and The Siege of Jerusalem (combined with Patience to form a unit on the destruction of cities) in place of Pearl. The F14 course website … Continue reading

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Literary Approaches to the Past: ENGL 179 F13

course description (with Eric Weiskott): Organized around the theme of the distant past, this course makes a study of selected works of medieval, early modern, and modern literature. We read four pairs of texts, selected to illustrate contrasting approaches to … Continue reading

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Readings in Middle English: ENGL 158 S14

Course description: What did English literature look like before the Canterbury Tales? In this course we study the language and forms of literature in English, from the middle of the twelfth century to the beginning of the fifteenth—-a period of … Continue reading

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