Literature of the Medieval and Renaissance Worlds

Course Description


Full-year course. A survey of the most important works from the later Church Fathers through the sixteenth century/Elizabethan era. Students will consider the idea of chivalric romance (in both its most grandiose and most ridiculous qualities); what exactly the love that moves the spheres is and how we are drawn to it; and the differences in and uses of tragic and comic stories. When taken in combination with our Medieval History course, this provides the integrated Great Books and History coverage recommended in The Well-Trained Mind. 

Example Syllabus (Download the PDF)

Required texts:

  • Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney
    • Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition), Norton, 2001 paperback. ISBN 9780393320978
  • The Volsung Saga, trans. Jesse L Byock
    • The Saga of the Volsungs, Penguin Classics, 1999 paperback. ISBN 9780140447385
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, trans. Simon Armitage
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (A New Verse Translation), Norton, 2008 paperback. ISBN 9780393334159
  • Song of Roland, trans. Glyn S. Burgess
    • Penguin Classics, 1990 paperback. ISBN 9780140445329
  • Thomas Mallory, Le Morte D’Arthur, ed. Helen Cooper
    • Le Morte Darthur: The Winchester Manuscript (Oxford World’s Classics), Oxford University Press, 2008 reissue edition. ISBN 9780199537341
  • Dante, The Divine Comedy, trans. Robert Pinsky
    • The Inferno of Dante: A New Verse Translation, Bilingual Edition,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996 Bilingual edition. ISBN 9780374524524
  • Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, trans. Neville Coghill
    • Penguin Classics, 2003 rev. ed. paperback. ISBN 9780140424386
  • Christopher Marlowe, Faustus, ed. David Wooten
    • Doctor Faustus: With the English Faust Book, Hackett Publishing Company, 2005. ISBN 9780872207295
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet, ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine
    • Simon & Schuster, Folger Library Shakespeare, 1992. ISBN 9780743477123

Class meets once per week for 50-55 minutes.

Class cap: 20 students.

Designed for grades 10-12.

Students in grades 9-12 may be awarded 1 Language Arts credit upon completion of this course.

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