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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Spring 2008


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37060 M
3:00 PM-6:00 PM
HRH 2.112

Course Description

This course begins with the assertion that one can learn the history of literary criticism simply by following the major debates within the criticism of medieval literature written in the last century. In fact, the strangeness and fundamental alterity of the object (pre-print, pre-humanist, etc.) irritates deep hermeneutic questions, bringing critical debates into high relief. Among these, the most fundamental: how can one make medieval writing meaningful without sacrificing its alterity? That is to say, is it possible to read medieval literature ethically? This fundamental question of ethical reading will guide us as we read various works representative of major critical turns in the field of literary criticism. Some such turns we may discuss in relationship to medieval literature include: critiques of the function of the author, critiques of the metaphysics of presence, performativity and its critiques, feminist/queer critiques, and critiques of nationalist-colonialist discourse.

The course will be organized around those "canonical" works of French literature that have most powerfully aroused critical debate, from the epic Chanson de Roland to the poetry of François Villon. Along with each literary reading we will read corresponding critical works representative of major debates. COURSE NUMBER MAY BE REPEATED FOR CREDIT WHEN THE TOICS VARY

Grading Policy

Weekly reading of primary and secondary materials, 15-minute oral presentation, annotated bibliography for one literary work (covering at least 10 critical works), seminar paper (15-20 pages).


Anon., La Chanson de Roland
Marie de France, Lais de Marie de France
Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier au lion ou le Roman d'Yvain
Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Le Roman de la Rose
François Villon, Poésie Complète
Reading Packet of critical work


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