Syllabus - Schedule of Classes

Jan. 11, 2017: First Day of Class: Welcome and Introduction.  

Let us discuss specifically what 5 of the most prevalent topics have always been for people throughout time. These will then be dealt with throughout the class looking at them through a variety of lenses


Jan. 16: We read the introductory text by Emily Amt and Classen: Historical framework, social structure, economic conditions


Jan. 18: Continuation with Amt/Classen: literature, religion, education, Jewish-Christian relations

Questions for group work

Jan. 23: Misfortune, Death, Justice, and Happiness

Boethius, Book I

Jan. 25: Boethius, Book II 

Jan. 30: Boethius, Book III (now in our textbook, also edited and highlighted)

Feb. 01: Father-Son Conflict, Loyalty, Honor, Death

The Song of Hildebrand (55-56)


Feb. 6: 1st exam: this will be done via tophat, with multiple-choice questions. Please make sure that your laptop or other gadget is fully charged and properly connected to the internet when you come to class.

Feb. 8: Hildebrand, cont., and, for a contrast, Kaufringer, no. 21

Feb. 13: We begin with our preparations for the portfolio. Please go to the library and bring a single-authored book on some of the texts with you to class today. Everyone with a name ending on A-C: Boethius (or medieval philosophy); ending on D-G: Nibelungenlied; ending on H-N: Marie de France; ending on O-R: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; S-T: Abelard, ending on U-W: Heinrich Kaufringer; ending on X-Z: Dante. Try to find a monograph of recent vintage (not prior to 1970, or so).  We'll read for today: Nibelungenlied: 55-63
Feb. 15: Nibelungenlied: 63-74
Feb. 20: Nibelungenlied: 74-90

Feb. 22: Nibelungenlied : 90-100. Final discussion of the Nibelungenlied: What is the heroic, what is the poet's ultimate message; what alternatives might have existed, and what are the central ideals here?

Feb. 27: 1st essay due in class: write either on Boethius, Hildebrandslied, or the Nibelungenlied. You must choose your own thesis, as we have practiced in class. Please pay attention to the instructions above. Martina will collect the essays.

To begin with "Our Lady's Tumbler"; please read the text first, then turn to the article by Daniel O'Sullivan on "Miracle Narratives" in the Handbook of Medieval Studies vol. 3, pp. 1911-1915 (link in the syllabus, but I have hyperlinked this for you) since I will have to assign the rest of the reading and its discussion to your homework. I'll have to travel to Logan, Utah, to review a college there.

March 01 (again no class!): Our Lady's Tumbler. See, for instance, Le Thionet (photos) Le Thionet (video I, with speaker) (video II, only music in the background) (video III, with Gregorian chant). You are required to read this article: A. Classen, "The Human Quest for Happiness and Meaning" to appear in Athens Journal of Humanities and Meaning, and to summarize in the form of a short essay, ca. 500 words, to be uploaded to D2L (1% of your total grade; which entails that your attendance record will be reduced to 6%). Due on March 1, 5 p.m. Basically, do this job during our class time and submit by ca. 12 p.m.

Spring break March 4-10

March 13: Final discussion of the Tumbler. Then: Love, Marriage. Reading: Marie de France: Lanval (107)


March 15: Marie de France: Lanval and Eliduc. Homework assignment: Find a recent critical study on Marie de France, either online (in a journal) or in the library (paper copy), read it and summarize it critically. Please report back to the class what the individual scholar's contribution was on March 20 


March 20: Review of Marie de France: Present what research you have found, Ca. 2 min. oral report, you can simply read your critical summary of the article you selected. We read: Lanval, and The Two Lovers.


March 22: We continue with the Review: Report about research focused on Marie de France. Be prepared to stand up and address the class.This will be critically important as a preparation for your portfolio.  We read Bisclavret.


March 27: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight : 293-304

March 29: 2nd essay due in class (deal with one text we have discussed since the first essay, such as one or two lais by Marie de France, the NL, or Our Lady's Tumbler, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. We are reading: Sir Gawain 304-318, and Kaufringer, no. 1 (contrastive approach)


April 03:  Continue with Kaufringer no. 1. What do we make out of this story for us today? Is there no clear human justice? We also read: Abelard, 247-248

2nd paper is returned today

April 05: Rationality, Critical Thinking:Abelard, 247-252

April 06: Martina will hold extra office hours to help with the re-writes, if necessary, ca. 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

April 10: Completion of Abelard:, focusing on Heloise's comments (253-55); Kaufringer: No. 7

If you want to rewrite your second essay, it will be due on this day(10. April), in class. Bold all changes and submit both the old and the new version (staple both together). Only the second grade will count, so watch it, it could go up (I hope so), or down!

April 12:  Contrast: Kaufringer: no. 13, no. 18

April 17:We read: Dante Alighieri: Midlife Crisis, Meaning of Life, Love: We begin reading Dante's Inferno (139) Questions. (Video 1; Video 2Video 3).Life of Dante 


April 19:  Roger Bacon: (257-264) for an online version, but not edited: here. We also read: Heinrich Kaufringer, no. 4


April 24: 3rd essay due in class (deal with one text only covered in class since the 2nd essay). You must be present in class to submit the essay! We read: Heinrich Kaufringer: No. 8: The Search for the Happily Married Couple; No. 25: Seven Deadly Sins


April 26: 2nd exam: again, using tophat, with multiple choice questions.


May 1: Deadline for portfolio, submit online. Last day of class. We'll read: Kaufringer: No. 6: The Cowardly Husband; No. 14: The Innocent Murderess; No. 29: Fight over Love and Beauty.

Final reflections: What have we achieved, what have we learned. 


Extra credit: attend any of the sessions in the conference "Pleasure and Leisure in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time" Fri or Sat., May 4-5, but sign in, please. You will be welcome to attend the conference as long as you want.  Write a brief summary of ca. 500 words and submit to me in as a printed copy on Mo, May 7, latest at 4 p.m. No late submissions!  Up to 30 extra points.

The Program

Students are responsible for picking up their graded papers either in class or from the dept. within max. 10 school days after they have been returned officially in class. Similarly, students are responsible for checking on their grades posted on D2L. After 10 school days no further review is possible. I cannot guarantee that your papers will be waiting for you weeks after the deadline. Submission to dropbox is not a substitute for the hard copy.


Subject to Change Statement

Information contained in the course syllabus, other than the grade and absence policy, may be subject to change with advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Final Grade Review: If there might be a problem with your grade, you can ask me for a review until May 14, 12 p.m. Beyond that, there will not be any opportunity to revisit your grade.