This seminar will be devoted to tracking the development of the story
of Troilus and Criseyde, from its origin in a 12th-century
French narrative of the Trojan War to Shakespeare's treatment in Troilus
Cressida. We will examine how the theme of romantic love alters
the preoccupations of epic ethos and engenders ethical debate over the
claims of personal and public obligations. We will also explore how the
representation of character changes over time, responding to the
divergent attractions of typology and mimesis. We will consider to what
extent it is possible to assign cultural causes to differences that
exist in the redactions of the story.
There are two textbooks for the course. The first, The
Story of Troilus, ed. R. K. Gordon, contains a translation of
excerpts drawn from Benoît de Sainte-Maure's Roman de Troie and
of the full text of Boccaccio's Filostrato. It
also provides a text, in Middle English, of Chaucer's Troilus and
Criseyde and, in Middle Scots, of Henryson's Testament of
Cresseid. We will devote some time to examining the language of
Chaucer and Henryson, with some translation exercises. I will provide
photocopies of a translation of Guido delle Colonne's Latin paraphrase
of Benoît's narrative about Troilus. The second textbook is David
Bevington's edition of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
Each student will conduct two seminar sessions, presenting a
summary and analysis, first of a collateral primary text (e.g.,
portions of Virgil's Aeneid, Andreas Capellanus's Art of
Courtly Love, Chaucer's Legend of Good Women), and second,
of a substantial piece of criticism devoted to one of the class texts.
Also required will be an essay on some aspect of the treatment of the
Troilus and Criseyde/Cressida story by Chaucer and/or Shakespeare. Or,
alternatively, students may elect to do a collation project involving
Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.