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Title: ENGL 190-02, Introductory Topics in Literature: Medieval Frame Tales, Fall 2011
Authors: Garner, Lori
Keywords: English, Department of;Syllabus;Curriculum;Academic departments;Text;2011 Fall
Issue Date: 25-Aug-2011
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Series/Report no.: Syllabi CRN;12221
Abstract: Welcome to the class! The frame tale—that is, a framing narrative depicting a series of oral storytelling performances by the frame’s characters—was widespread and popular throughout the Middle Ages and even as late as the early 16th Century. This enormously flexible genre offers modern audiences an entertaining and representative introduction to the medieval world, since a single frame could encompass a range of story types as diverse as romance, fabliaux, saints’ lives, and allegory. As stories about storytelling, frame tales demonstrate the compelling power of narrative in negotiating even the most dire or tedious of circumstances. Storytellers in the frame tales we will read include young noble men and women escaping the Black Plague, flood victims trapped in an abbey high in the mountains, pilgrims seeking entertainment and edification on their way to a martyr’s grave, a young bride deferring death at the hands of her own husband and king, and a gifted teacher who uses stories to awaken the intellect of hopelessly foolish princes. Our first unit will be devoted to the study of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (14th-century Italian) as well as brief selections from Marguerite de Navarre’s much later Heptameron (early 16th-Century French) that it inspired. Our second unit will look backward, exploring the much earlier Eastern frame tales the Arabian Nights (Arabic) and the Panćatantra (Sanskrit), texts that circulated widely in Medieval Europe, inspiring and influencing the genre in its later forms. Finally, we will turn our attention to Great Britain, exploring the role of storytelling in a group of medieval Welsh tales without a formal frame known as Mabinogi, concluding our course with tales told by pilgrims in the most famous frame tale of all: Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (14th-Century British). All works will be read in translation, and no prior knowledge will be expected. Limited to First Years and Sophomores only; however, ENG-151 is not required as a prerequisite for this course. This course is writing intensive and fulfills Foundations requirements F2i and F4.
Description: This syllabus was submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the course instructor. Uploaded by Archives RSA Josephine Hill.
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