5523.001 Medieval Language and Literature
Dan Ransom


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 and 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 a translation 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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