Fall 2001

MT 251

TR 10:10 – 11:25

This prospectus will be updated periodically. You will find the authoritative text at
Please check all details there, especially assignments and their dates

Office Hours:

            Prof. Galloway             GS 63               Phone: 255-2325; Net-ID: asg6 

Monday 12:30-1:30, Thurs. 11:45-12:45, and by arrangement

            Prof. Hyams                MG 307            Home phone: 257-3168; Net-ID: prh3

                                Tuesdays 2-3 pm, Wednesdays 12 noon – 1 pm, and by arrangement


CLANCHY England and its Rulers, 1066-1272

HOLMES, The Later Middle Ages, 1272-1485
BURROW, English Writers and their Work
BRERETON, Froissart: Chronicles
CAWLEY, Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays
ANDERSON, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Cleanness, Patience
DONALDSON, Piers Plowman (translation)
SCHMIDT, Piers Plowman (edition)

Other readings will be made available as needed on Electronic Reserve (e-Reserve), or from the Instructors in xerox or on these Web pages. You should check the Web version of this prospectus each week for details.

Uris Reserve: We shall use this sparingly and as the needs arise during the term. So, watch this space!

PE535 .B97 1996    BURROW & TURVILLE-PETRE, A Book of Middle English (excellent intro on language)


This course explores key issues and key texts from the English literature of the period 1100-1500. It aims to survey and introduce the Age of Middle English—its history, its language, and its literature—to majors in English and History and others who seek something more than a bare acquaintance with the Canterbury Tales and Wars of the Roses. The instructors, coming from two different disciplines, expect to educate themselves as well as the class on the contributions that history and literature can each make to the understanding of the other. Lectures will be designed to provide context for the class’s central feature: close reading of texts, some in the original Middle English, some in translation of Middle English, French, and Latin, ranging from literary masterpieces to chronicle narratives, from dream visions to social satire.We shall show how both “literary” and “historical” kinds of approaches to the high-quality, diverse, and often exotic writings of the period give the breath of life and human meaning to the thoughts and feelings of men and women from an alien period that was also a foundation for our own culture.


  1. Take-Home Exam in Week XI. This is designed to ensure that students study the History textbooks carefully with supplementary help from the lectures. The thrust will be on names, dates, events rather on any deeper analysis, of the kind that will be expected in Paper II below. = approx. 20% of the Final Grade.
  2. Weekly translations from ME texts as handed out on each Thursday for return to the instructors for correction the next Tuesday. Each should be followed by about half a page of comment or reaction to the texts. Grading will be S/U, but will make up approx. 25% of the Final Grade
  3. Mini-Paper (c. 5 pages). Choose any of the translation texts (2. above) from Weeks I-VI for extended comment on literary interest or historical value. This should be in typescript, and meet the standard Cornell expectations as to bibliography etc. = approx. 20% of the Final Grade.
  4. Paper II. You must consult with one or both of the instructors to gain his/their approval of a title for a paper 10-15 pages long on some aspect of English language or literature in the period covered, or – even better – on some crossover topic of English literary or cultural history. Titles to be agreed by Week XI; completed paper in on Monday Dec 10           = approx. 30% of the Final Grade.
  5. Office Hours. All students will be expected to attend Office Hours fairly frequently, in order to raise issues that have not come up in class. This is considered one of the course requirements, but is obviously also an opportunity to gain one-on-one assistance in the study.


0. Preliminaries                                              Thurs Aug 30

I. Conquest and Continuity                            Sept 4, 6          

Clanchy, chaps. 2-3                                                       Do you need a Map of England?
Extract from Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Peterborough) (Xerox + Translations on Web)
Orderic Vitalis on the Death of William the Conqueror, 1087 (e-Reserve)

II. Normans; Church and Society (A)            Sept 11, 13

Clanchy, chaps. 5-6
William of Malmesbury, Historia Novella (e-Reserve)

III. Normans; Church and Society (B)           Sept 18, 20        [Rosh Hashanah is Tuesday]

The Owl and the Nightingale (Web)
Lai d’Haveloc (xerox)
Clanchy, chaps. 1, 4

IV. Renaissance and Cultural Identity (A)   Sept 25, 27     
[Yom Kippur is Thursday] Clanchy, chaps. 7, 10

Geoffrey of Monmouth; Wace, Roman de Brut; Layamon, Brut (excerpts; Web)Clanchy, chaps. 7
Geoffrey of Monmouth; Wace, Roman de Brut; Layamon, Brut (excerpts; e-reserve)

V. Renaissance and Cultural Identity (B)      Oct 2, 4

Clanchy, chaps. 8-10     (Take a look at Magna Carta too.)
Brian FitzCount Letter, 1136
Harley Lyrics (selection; Web)
Henry III’s Proclamation in English, 1258


VI. England and English                     Thurs, Oct 11

Clanchy, chaps. 11-12
Harley Lyrics (contd.)
Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora (extract on Little St. Hugh of Lincoln, 1255)

VII. The Rise of English as a Literary Language (A)            Oct 16, 18

Holmes, chaps. 1, 4
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Cawley), fitts 1-2


VIII. The Rise of English as a Literary Language (B)                    Oct 23, 25

Holmes, chaps. 5-6
Sir Gawain, fitts 3-4
Froissart, 37-8, 97-112 (Black Death, Calais)
Good Parliament 1376 (Stephenson & Marcham, no. 61 [I]) from Parliament Rolls & Anonimalle Chronicle


Sunday, October 28 – Tuesday October 30

IX. Chivalry & the Hundred Years War                    Oct 30, Nov 1

Holmes, chaps. 2, 3
Froissart (Brereton), 120-45 (Black Prince).
Pearl (Cawley)

X.         Piers and his World (A)                                  Nov 6, 8b

Holmes, chaps. 7-8.
Knighton, selection on 1381 (Web or e-Reserve)
Piers Plowman (B text), ed. Schmidt: Prologue
Froissart, 201-30 (Schism, 1381)

XI.       Piers and his World (B)                                  Nov 13, 15

Piers Plowman , passus 2-7 (sections in ME from Schmidt, rest from Donaldson)
Favent Chronicle (ASG translation)|
Froissart, 316-27 (1388)

XII.      Piers and his World (C)                                  Nov 20

Piers Plowman (B Text), passus 8-12 (sections in ME from Schmidt, rest from Donaldson)


XIII.    Piers and his World (D)                                  Nov 27, 29

Piers Plowman (B Text), passus 13-20 (concluded) (sections in ME from Schmidt, rest from Donaldson)
York Crucifixion (Cawley Plays)
Froissart, 421-71 (Richard II’s downfall)

XIV.     Post-Piers: Lollards, Pathos, and the Awkward 15th CenturyDec 4, 6

Pierce the Plowman’s Crede
Brome Play of Abraham and Isaac (in Cawley)
Towneley, Second Shepherd's Play (in Cawley)

Study period, Sun-Wed, Dec 9-12
Exam Period, Dec 13-21



http://ets.umdl.umich.edu/m/mec/ = Middle English Compendium

http://ets.umdl.umich.edu/m/med/ = Middle English Dictionary

http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/danefrm.htm = Middle English Texts (TEAMS)

http://www.ub.rug.nl/camelot/teams/dane.htm = Havelok the Dane (ME text)

http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Anglo/ = Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (19th c. transl.)

http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/ = Online Medieval and Classical Library (OMACL texts)

http://orb.rhodes.edu/textbooks/OEindex.html = Old English: An Introductory Course

http://orb.rhodes.edu/ = The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB)

http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/library/me/me.html = Labyrinth Middle English Bookshelf

http://www.georgetown.edu/labyrinth/subjects/british_isles/england/england.html = Labyrinth Medieval England

http://e3.uci.edu/programs/medieval/meclips.html = Site to help with pronunciation of Middle English

I realize that some students may lack the detailed knowledge of the geography of England, that is sometimes crucial to understanding the readings and the matters they treat. Obviously you can consult an atlas in the library or online.  I have also prepared a few helpful maps for my students. I suggest you at least look at the first two on the list. Or you can look at the best online Historical Atlas I know as yet.