ENGL 3101: Early Literatures
Lecture - 4 credits
- The idea and ideals of love and romance in contemporary American (and English) culture have been shaped by a number of literary texts from the medieval period: the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot is the best known.
- Medieval readers loved reading about unrequited love and romantic triangles—and apparently, so do we.
- In fact, in “Dreaming the Middle Ages,” Umberto Eco argues that the history of the notion of love as “a devastating unhappy happiness” is rooted in the Middle Ages—this notion still has traction today, as John Cusack’s hapless character in High Fidelity (2000), Rob Gordon, demonstrates when he says: What came first?
- The music or the misery?
- People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of cultural violence will take them over.
- Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands of songs, literally thousands of songs, about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery, and loss.
- Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?
- Thus Rob riffs on Oscar Wilde’s famous statement, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” We shall discuss!
- We’ll read a number of medieval romances and pair them with modern written retellings and films set in the Middle Ages.
- We’ll explore representations of love, romance, and sexual desire, and study how romances construct masculinity and femininity and attempt to confirm heteronormativity as the ideal—and also how romances, medieval and modern, also have the power to destabilize the binaries of masculine and feminine as well as disrupt the heteronormative.
- Requirements: a Reading Journal and two papers, one due at midpoint and one at the end of class.
The idea and ideals of love and romance in contemporary American (and English) culture have been shaped by a number of literary texts from the medieval period: the story of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot is the best known. Show more.