Associate Professor — Ph.D., Cornell University
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 512-471-7480
- Office: PAR 213
- Campus Mail Code: B5000
Geraldine Heng is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Director of Medieval Studies and the holder of the Perceval endowment for Medieval Romance, Historiography, and Culture, an endowment created to support her research and teaching.
She is also Founder and Co-director of the Global Middle Ages Project (G-MAP), the Mappamundi cybernetic initiatives, and the Scholarly Community for the Globalization of the Middle Ages (SCGMA):http://www.laits.utexas.edu/gma/portal/
Heng's teaching has included courses on the literatures and political cultures of the crusades, the genealogies and texts of medieval romance, the literatures of medieval England, Chaucer, medieval biography, premodern race and race theory, transcultural medieval travel narratives, and feminist theory and third world feminisms.
In 2004, she designed, coordinated, and taught in “Global Interconnections: Imagining the World 500-1500 CE,” an experimental interdisciplinary graduate seminar collaboratively taught by seven faculty to introduce an interconnected premodern world spanning Europe, Islamic civilizations, Mahgrebi and SubSaharan Africa, India, China, and the Eurasian continent.
Heng’s research focuses on literary, cultural, and social encounters between worlds, and webs of exchange and negotiation between communities and cultures, particularly when transacted through issues of gender, race, sexuality, and religion. She is especially interested in medieval Europe’s discoveries and rediscoveries of Asia and Africa. Her book, Empire of Magic, traces the development of a medieval literary genre—European romance, and, in particular, the King Arthur legend—in response to the traumas of the crusades and crusading history, and Europe’s myriad encounters with the East. She is completing two books: a book theorizing premodern race and racial-religious difference, and a book on medieval England as a global site, traced through its literature.
EUS 347 • Mongols/Nomads/Muslim Mid Ages
M 600pm-900pm PAR 206
(also listed as
E 360S )
Instructor: Heng, G
Unique #: 36115
Semester: Spring 2014
Cross-lists: EUS 347
Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.
Description: Although the Renaissance is widely characterized as the era in which the West initiated travel and contact with the rest of the world, Christian Europe in fact encountered global races from every part of the world very much earlier, during what is commonly called its Middle Ages—through trade, missionary activity, war, diplomacy, and even imaginary kinds of voyaging.
This course looks at how medieval contact and encounter is depicted in literary texts, with a focus on the international populations that made the greatest impact on the consciousness of the Latin West: Mongols, Nomads, and Muslims. We’ll consider Europe’s responses to the steppe peoples who periodically emerged from Central Asia and swept westward—occupying lands, transforming cultures, and changing the face of the earth—by reading accounts of Mongolian habits and practices, written by Franciscan friars and traveling merchants, who had to make sense of such foreign peoples. We’ll follow changes in such depictions over time, as the foreign becomes the familiar.
We’ll also see how Muslims—the international enemy and main competitor of the West during centuries of crusades—trouble the European imagination, and how Europe itself, especially northern and Eastern Europe, appeared to Islamic travelers. Questions we will ask include the following: how does the West make sense of people who appear unimaginably strange, when encountered for the first time? What helps to bridge otherness and difference between cultures and populations, and what conditions ensure failure or success? What role did religion play? How did gender figure in such encounters? Ultimately, we will ask: what did it mean to be human, in different parts of the world?
Possible Texts (subject to change): John of Plano Carpini’s History of the Mongols; William of Rubruck’s Travels; Franciscan letters; Ordoric of Pordenone’s Description of the World; The Secret History of the Mongols (selections); Mongol (film); Marco Polo’s Travels; The Book of Sir John Mandeville; Ibn Fadlan’s Journey to Russia and Scandinavia; The Sultan of Babylon; Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale, Squire’s Tale; Emare; The Letter of Prester John; Floris and Blancheflor.
Requirements & Grading: a term paper of at least 12 pages (50%), 1 or 2 in-class presentations (30%), attendance (10%) and active participation (10%). Texts listed are suggestive, not final.
Global England: A Literary Archeology of the Global Middle Ages, in progress.
The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, in progess.
Race and the Middle Ages. University of Toronto Press and the Medieval Academy of America, 2012.
"The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages II: Locations of Medieval Race." Forthcoming in Literature Compass, the Global Circulation Project.
"The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages I: Race Studies, Modernity, and the Middle Ages." Forthcoming in Literature Compass, the Global Circulation Project.
"Holy War Redux: The Crusades, Futures of the Past, and Strategic Logic in the 'Clash' of Religions." PMLA May 2011.
"An Experiment in Collaborative Humanities: 'Global Interconnections: Imagining the World 500-1500. ADFL Bulletin, 38(3), December 2007.
"Jews, Saracens, 'Black men,' Tartars: England in a World of Racial Difference, 13th-15th Centuries," A Companion to Medieval English Literature, c. 1350-c.1500, ed. Peter Brown, Blackwell 2005.
''Music to My Ears: Pleasure, Resistance, and Feminist Aesthetics in Reading.'' Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory. ed. Ellen Rooney. Cambridge UP, 2006.
Empire of Magic: Medieval Romance and the Politics of Cultural Fantasy. NY: Columbia University Press (2003).
"The Romance of England: Richard Coer de Lyon, Saracens, Jews, and the Politics of Race and Nation," The Postcolonial Middle Ages, ed. Jeffrey Cohen, Garland (2000).
"Cannibalism, the First Crusade, and the Genesis of Medieval Romance," differences 10.1, 1998.
"'A Great Way to Fly': Women, Nationalism, and the Varieties of Feminism in Southeast Asia." Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures (pp.30-45). eds. M. Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Talpade, Mohanty, Routledge, 1996 (republished, translated).
"A Woman Wants: The Lady, Gawain, and the Forms of Seduction." Yale Journal of Criticism, 5(3), 101-134 (September 1992).
"Feminine Knots and the Other Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." PMLA: Publication of the Modern Language Association of America, 500-514 (May 1991).
''State Fatherhood: The Politics of Nationalism, Sexuality, and Race in Singapore'', Nationalisms and Sexualities, eds. Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Sommer, Patricia Yeager, Routledge 1991 (republished eight times; translated into other languages).