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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2007

E 326K • Literature of the Middle Ages in Translation

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
35825 MW
4:30 PM-6:00 PM
PAR 306

Course Description

This semester, our survey of medieval literature will explore how medieval Europe saw its "others": the alien nations of the world, in the form of Islamic civilization, Mongol, and Asian societies, and minority communities in the heart of Europe, such as those constituted by medieval Jews. We'll read texts from a variety of genres--romance, biography, historical reports, and travel literature--to consider what "Europe" in fact was at this time, and examine how encounters with alien nations figured in the coalescence of European identity and culture. Concomitantly, we'll read critical accounts by contemporary historians and literary scholars that contextualize, interrogate, and complexify the original documents we read.

We'll approach our subject through 3 main thematic intersections that represented the principal ground of encounter between Europe and other nations: war, religion, and travel. In these contexts, well ask ourselves what the medieval West wanted from the rest of the world, what was at stake in the international contests of religion and military conflict, and how the opening up of terra incognita to trade and exploration changed the West.


(tentative) Edward Said, Orientalism Chaucer, The Prioress's Tale Ibn Fadlan in the land of the Vikings Selections from John Tolan, Nerina Rustomji, Dorothee Melitzki, others The Siege of Milan The King of Tars The Travels of Sir John Mandeville Marco Polo, The Travels Beha ad-Din, Biography of Saladin Roman de Saladin Packet of readings


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