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FR267 The Medieval World and its Others: Gender, Race, Religion

Module Code: FR267
Module Name: The Medieval World and its Others: Gender, Race, Religion
Module Coordinator: Dr Emma Campbell
Term 2 Time: Tuesdays 12:00-14:00 Room: H4.03
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

In contemporary contexts, the labelling of something as 'medieval' often harks back to what is seen as a violent, bigoted, uncivilised past. This module will look beyond this comforting fantasy of a ‘dark ages’ against which the present can be measured, giving you a better understanding of how Western medieval sources actually deal with topics like gender, race, and religion.

While not shying away from the misogyny, anti-Semitism, and racial/religious prejudice sometimes articulated in medieval texts and images, the module will also give you an insight into how such views are challenged or troubled. We will consider how medieval women, Muslims, Jews, and various kinds of racial 'others' were represented in medieval culture. We will do this through focused analysis of a range of different source types, including didactic materials, illustrated works of natural history, exemplary literature, romance, and fantastical travel narratives. No previous knowledge of the Middle Ages is required for the module; the textual materials studied are predominantly written in Old French or Latin, but will be studied in modern French or English translation.

The Middle Ages remains an important reference point for contemporary Western culture. This is your opportunity to look behind the myths pedalled about this crucial historical period and to consider for yourself the complexity of medieval representations of gendered, racial, or religious ‘otherness’.

Core Texts

1. Fiero, Gloria K., Wendy Pfeffer, and Mathé Allain, ed. and trans., Three Medieval Views of Women: La Contenance Des Fames, Le Bien Des Fames, and Le Blasme Des Fames (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989).

2. Clemence of Barking, ‘La Vie de Sainte Catherine d’Alexandrie’, in Virgin Lives and Holy Deaths: Two Exemplary Biographies for Anglo-Norman Women, ed. and trans. J. Wogan-Browne and G. S. Burgess (London: Everyman, 1996), 3-43.

3. Christine de Pizan, La Cité des Dames, trans. T. Moreau and E. Hicks (Paris: Stock, 1986). (digitised extracts to be made available to students)

4. Clark, Willene B., ed. and trans. A Medieval Book of Beasts: The Second-Family Bestiary. Commentary, Art, Text and Translation (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2006). (digitised extracts to be made available to students)

5. Gautier de Coinci, Le Miracle de Théophile, ou, Comment Théophile vint à la penitence, ed. and trans. Anette Garnier (Paris: Champion, 2000)

6. Aucassin et Nicolette (Paris: Flammarion, 1993) or (Paris: Gallimard, 1999).

7. 'Le livre de messire Jean de Mandeville, version liégeoise, 1396', trans. Christiane Deluz, in Croisades et pèlerinages: récits, chroniques et voyages en Terre sainte, XIIe–XVIe siècle, ed. Danielle Régnier-Bohler (Paris: Laffont, 1997), 1393-1435. (digitised extract to be made available to students)

Assessment Method:

100% Essay: 4,000-4,500 words in English OR 100% 2 hour exam