E 379S • Robin Hood and Medieval Outlaw Tradition
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
Robin Hoods legend has been shaped in the popular imagination in the West by generations of contemporary mediacomic strips, cartoons, Hollywood feature films, documentaries, mass market novels, science fiction, and childrens literatureso that we can tell, at a glance, what various generations of the 20th and 21st century have found appealing and useful to reinvent in the legend.
This course will examine what late medieval Englandthe context in which the legend first emerged in literaturefound appealing and useful in the figure of Robin Hood, his Greenwood outlaw community, and his place in medieval outlaw tradition. Beginning with Hereward the Wake, and continuing through outlaws such as Gamelyn, figures-in-exile such as Havelok the Dane, or loathly hags on the margins of society, we will consider the attractions that some forms of deviation from normative culture have over others. Well ask ourselves why certain medieval communities on the margin were condemned as dangerousas heretical or sexually deviantwhile other marginal communities possessed a certain glamour, and were imaginatively invoked in symbolic ways to summon up alternative visions of land, governance, polity, and community in late medieval England.
Accordingly, well consider the development of law in England, the rise of yeomanry and newly emergent social classes and their symbolic figures.
Two in-class presentations, and the keeping of a journal detailing ongoing critical responses to the texts we discuss. Students will also construct and submit at mid-semester a detailed draft-in-outline (6-8 pages minimum, double-spaced, typed) of a final term paper from the developing argument of their critical thoughts as recorded in the journal. A final paper of 12-15 pages, double-spaced, typed, will be submitted at the end of the semester.
Presentations, attendance, and active participation 40%
Rymes of Robin Hood
Packet of readings and supplementary texts