The course is divided into three complementary and cumulative parts. Part I Concepts and Theories (Weeks 1-4) is intended to lay the conceptual foundations for the rest of the course, introducing us to some of the ideas and debates that have shaped scholarly discussion of gender and gender history, and by extension of masculinity. There is also an opportunity to sketch out some of the main characteristics of medieval society. Part II Main Texts (Weeks 4-9) is designed to be an immersive introduction to a range of significant medieval texts that individually and cumulatively speak to questions of masculinity and masculine identity. There are no written assignments or other forms of assessment until the Midterm in Week 9, the aim being to devote maximal time and energy to the close reading of this material, which comprises Beowulf, The Vinland Sagas, Peter Abelard's Historia Calamitatum, and Chrétien de Troyes's The Knight of the Cart, aka Lancelot. These texts – and the others that we will study – have been chosen as points of entry into both the literary construction of masculinity in the early and central medieval periods, and the lived experience of medieval men and women as they relate to gender. In other words, we will be concerned both with cultural and social historical approaches. Part III Case Studies (Weeks 11-14) will extend and synthesize the lessons from Parts I and II by examining a range of sources, some fairly similar to those encountered in Part II, others new. These case studies will generally involve a little less class preparation than the texts that feature in Part II, thereby releasing students to devote time to the research for and writing of their main papers. Week 15 similarly broadens the range of enquiry by looking at images of masculinity in medieval art and in medievalism (the modern cultural appropriation of the Middle Ages), while also giving students time to work on their main papers. Class Formats The classes will not be lectures by me, though there will be times in the earlier part of the course in which there will be an element of supplying necessary background. The main aim is for classes to involve student-led discussion, and it is therefore very important that you take responsibility for your role in that process and duly contribute fully and consistently. The precise content and agenda of each class will differ, but the two principal exercises in which we shall engage are: • Close reading of primary sources and the framing of questions about them • Group discussion In some classes, we will begin by writing brief in-class reaction pieces relating to that week's assigned readings. There will also be opportunities for small-group discussion. In a number of classes, we will examine 'unseen' primary materials. These are designated 'Key Texts' in the class schedule below.
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