Medieval Studies

MDV 392M • Medieval And Early Mod Curric

39805 • Woods, Marjorie
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM CAL 323
(also listed as C L 381, E 387R)
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The Medieval and Early Modern Curriculum

This course will encompass overlapping but not identical sets of texts taught at schools during the medieval, late medieval, and early modern periods. A number of these texts were also taught in American schools and colleges (and formed the basis of libraries of British and American novelists and poets well into the nineteenth century). When possible, both medieval and early modern approaches to the texts will be discussed.

Although some histories of education will be consulted, the emphasis of the course will be on actually reading the texts known to most educated men (and some women) of the periods. Almost all the works were originally written for adults and in Latin, although all required reading for the course will be in English. (Students focusing on the Early Modern period may read texts on EEBO if they wish.) Printed editions of some and manuscripts of a few of the works are in the HRC’s collections.

Students of all periods are welcome, and research projects (including those focusing on other periods or cultures) will be worked out individually for each student according to his or her research interests.

Selective reading list of primary sources:

Building Blocks:

            The Distichs of Cato (proverbs)

            Eclogue of Theodulus (debate poem with paired classical and biblical stories)

Troy Books for Boys:

            Achilleid of Statius (boyhood of Achilles, including when he was disguised as a girl)

            Ilias Latina (“Latin Homer”)

Sexual Exploits;

            Elegies of Maximian (memories of love and sex)

Geta (Jupiter pretends to be a student returning to his wife)

Pamphilus on Love (so widely read that it’s said to be the origin of the word “pamphlet”)

Auctores (with both medieval and early modern commentary)

Ovid, Metamorphoses Book 1

Virgil, Aeneid, Books 1, 2, 4, and 6

Biblical Narratives:

Tobias of Matthew of Vendôme

“Judith” from the Aurora (Dawn) of Peter Riga.

Glossa ordinaria on the Book of Jonah

Composition Texts:

Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria nova (rhetoric taught rhetorically)

Erasmus, selections from De copia (composition based on classical models)

Aphthonius, Progumnasmata (linked sequence of preliminary exercises)


Additional primary readings  and secondary sources will be chosen taking into account the research interests of the students.