Spring 2015


English: Seminar in Medieval Literature: Rebellion and Dissent in the Later Middle Ages (350:612) Prof. Scanlon M 9:50 AM-12:50 PM
In the 1370s and 1380s, medieval English culture was marked by three major events: medieval England’s only peasant revolt, the emergence only of its only heresy (promulgated by a dissident Oxford cleric named John Wyclif), and the publication of William Langland’s Piers Plowman. This poem would achieve a circulation second only to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The poem was also to become closely connected to the other two events. The rebels of 1381 used the poem’s title figure as a rallying cry. This revolutionary gesture would initiate a tradition of associating plowmen and Piers with religious dissent and political rebellion and reform that would last four centuries, extending all the way to the Jeffersonian figure of the yeoman farmer. One of the earliest dissident movements to embrace the figure of Piers were the Lollards, the heretical followers of Wyclif.

This course will explore the problems of rebellion and religious and political dissent as they relate to literary expression, using Langland’s monumental poem in its two major versions as our central focus. In addition to Wyclif and the Lollards, we will also consider two other major expressions of dissent from the period, The Book of Margery Kempe and the plays of the Wakefield Master. Finally the course will draw a major portion of its conceptual orientation from the Marxist and post-Marxist theory. We will look at selections from a few classic texts, as wells as very recent debates concerning symptomatic readings and commodity fetishism.

Bibliographical presentation and research paper

Reading list
Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free.
Anne Hudson, Selections from English Wycliffite Writings.
Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe
William Langland, Piers Plowman: the C-Text (ed. Pearsall).
William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman (the B-text; ed. Schmidt) .
Wakefield Master, The Killing of Abel, Noah, Shepherd’s Play, Second Shepherd’s Play, Herod the Great, The Buffeting

Jacques Derrida, The Specter of Marx
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Selections from
Bill Brown, A Sense of Things.
Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious.
Karl Marx, Capital and Grundrisse.

*Students who are interested in taking this course should write to Professor Scanlon (lscanlon@rci.rutgers.edu) directly.*

History: Colloquium in Global History: Christian/Muslim Encounters in Medieval and Early Modern History (510:541) Prof. Reinert
Prospective students who wish to discuss any aspects of the course should contact Professor Stephen Reinert at sreinert@rci.rutgers.edu.

Art History: Problems in Medieval Art: Art & Performance I: The Theatricality of Late Medieval and Early Modern Art (082: 622) Prof. Weigert Th 1:00 PM-3:40 PM
This seminar investigates the relationship of visual images to theatrical performances, focusing on late medieval and early modern Europe. It provides an introduction to theoretical writings on performance and performativity and to the historiography of art and theater.

Art History: Medici Patronage in the Fifteenth Century (082:630) Prof. Paoletti T 1:00 PM-3:40 PM
The extent and lavishness of Medici patronage in the arts during the fifteenth century is well known, but the strategies behind their artistic commissions are less discussed. We will consider four generations of the family, what they commissioned (and what they bought), where they chose to place their commissions, the relationship of their artist endeavors to those of other families in Florence, and the meanings conveyed by medium, placement, and iconography. Finally we will consider contemporary understanding of these messages once the Medici are expelled from Florence in 1494.
Weekly seminar reports by individuals in the seminar will be scheduled at the beginning of the term; they are intended to guide discussion of the material as we progress through the term. A substantive final paper is also expected.

Italian: Italian Literature of the 15th Century (560:615) Prof. Marsh T 4:30 PM-7:10 PM

French: Old French Language & Literature (420:611) Prof. Speer T 3:55 PM-6:55 PM
Introduction to Old French language and literature through study of the grammar and close analytical reading of major works of the 11th and 12th centuries. Interpreting reading in a broad sense, we will also consider some of the material and methodological challenges posed by medieval texts: the manuscript culture, problems of oral and written transmission, the construction of modern edited texts, and the methods used to prepare them. Critically, we will focus on the development of vernacular literary styles, as well as on intertextualities and discontinuities in medieval writing. Texts include early masterpieces in hagiography (Vie de saint Alexis, 11th century) and epic (Chanson de Roland, c. 1100), and several short narratives of the later 12th century (fabliaux, lais).  The course will be taught in English and will involve translation and detailed analysis of selected passages in Old French. Students are expected to have a good reading knowledge of both English and modern French; the editions chosen for class use will have glossaries and notes in either French or English, depending on the text. In addition to preparing translations and participating in class discussions, students will write two short papers and take a final exam.

Required Texts
Perugi, Maurizio, ed. La Vie de saint Alexis. Textes Littéraires Français 529. Geneva: Droz, 2000. 2600004564
Short, Ian, ed. and trans. La Chanson de Roland. 2nd ed. Lettres Gothiques 4524. Paris: Livre de Poche, 1990. 2253053414
Einhorn, E. Old French: A Concise Handbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 0521098386
An Old French Dictionary, either of the following:
Greimas, A. J. Dictionnaire de l’ancien français. Paris: Larousse, 2012. 2035865786: ISBN for recent hardback. Earlier printings, available used, are fine; dictionary has not been revised since 1968.
Hindley, Alan, Frederick W. Langley, and Brian J. Levy. Old French-English Dictionary. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2006. 0521027047
Note: Examine library copies before choosing a dictionary; they differ by more than language.
Fabliaux and lais (electronic reserve)