Dr. Chris Healy

HLG 250



Office Hours

MWF 10:00-11:00

TR 8:00-9:30

and by appointment

Medieval Studies

(ENGL 505-001)

Spring 2006

MWF 11:00-11:50 a.m.

HLG 135


Langland, William. Piers Plowman. Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. New York: Norton, 1990. [0393960110]

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Middle English Text With Facing Translation. Ed. And trans. James Winny. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 1992. [0921149921]

Gower, John. Confessio Amantis. Ed. Russell A Peck. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1980. [0802064388]

Lydgate, John. The Siege of Thebes. Ed. Robert R. Edwards. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan U, 1999. [1580440746]

Hoccleve, Thomas. Thomas Hoccleve: The Regiment of Princes. Ed. Charles R. Blyth. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan U, 1999. [1580440231]

---. “My Compleinte” and Other Poems. Ed. Roger Ellis. Exeter: U of Exeter P, 2001. [085989701X]

possible packet, handouts, and online texts


The Middle English period has often been looked at as a build-up to Chaucer (and, perhaps, the Pearl-Poet), with a sharp decline into a stark and barren literary landscape in the fifteenth century. Critics have frequently perpetuated this misconception by treating the fifteenth-century as a period of Chaucerian mimicry, of preparation for the next literary phase, or even of “dullness.” But the English literary world was not simply biding time between Chaucer and Shakespeare. This course will look at the other later Middle English period, analyzing contemporaneous works such as the Confessio Amantis by Chaucer’s friend John Gower, works by fifteenth-century “imitators” like John Lydgate and Thomas Hoccleve, and finally the Second Shepherds’ Play. The seminar will thus more fairly describe the literary world of England at the close of the Middle Ages. Students will take an active role in teaching literature (in the form of mini-lectures), developing their own ideas, turning ideas into conference-style presentations, and converting conference presentations into a publication-quality papers.

The course can be described in reference to specific objectives:


    Examine later Middle English literary works

I have chosen those works that function as cultural artifacts, reflect current critical (dis)interests, or otherwise assist in illuminating our study.


    Ground you in Middle English

Familiarity with Middle English, the forerunner of Modern English, is vital for students hoping to read other Middle English works or to grasp the history of the English language.


    Acquaint you with the profession

Because you are graduate students, I have an obligation to usher you from your chosen avocation into what will soon be your vocation. This initiation revolves around covering the types of work involved in academe: teaching literature, generating ideas, presenting papers, and writing articles.


    Familiarize you with the texts

Some of these works are considered masterpieces; others are seldom taught and are all but ignored. By looking at the texts that are regarded as secondary alongside those in the forefront of critical acclaim, students can more fairly appraise the value of the works we read. Further, students will attain a conversance with both the well-known and obscure, gaining a broader knowledge of the period.



  5% - Abstract 1

  5% - Abstract 2

  5% - Abstract 3

15% - Conference-Style Presentation

25% - Seminar Paper


  5% - Oral Reading

15% - Bibliographical Essay

  5% - Report 1

10% - Report 2

10% - Active Participation

The abstracts are short (one- or two-page) proposals that present the essential idea of a paper. They need not make reference to research, although they certainly may. Students will ultimately select one of these abstracts, research the topic, and develop the idea into a conference-style paper that will be presented in class, just as if we were at a conference. That same paper will then be revised into a seminar paper, the standard, publication-quality essay.

For the oral reading exercise, each student must read aloud a passage of at least forty lines in the original Middle English, using proper pronunciation. These passages will be read aloud during class.

The bibliographical essay is a research and writing assignment, aimed at providing members of the class with an overview of trends in criticism on a particular author, with special emphasis on 1990 to the present.

Report 1 is a discussion of the findings discussed in the Bibliographical Essay.

Report 2 is an oral presentation on one of the topics on the assignment sheet

Active participation is rather self-explanatory, is it not? When we are having a discussion, I really want the participants to be we, as in all of us. To receive these points, equivalent to a letter grade, you must regularly attend class: attendance is required.

I reserve the right to add, change, or delete assignments, which can result in a change to percentage values.


Visit the course Web site (http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~cah2547/medstudmain.html). The site has not only this current information, but also links to related supplemental pages.

I suggest that you join an academic discussion list focused on the Middle Ages, one that suits your interests. These lists are valuable insight into what contemporary scholars discuss. See Edwin Duncan’s listing of various such groups (http://www.towson.edu/~duncan/acalists.html). Be advised, however, that some of the lists are quite active, so expect frequent bursts of e-mail.


If you have a disability or special needs, please provide me with the proper documentation from Services for Students with Disabilities as soon as possible. Accommodations for qualified students will be gladly provided, but overall requirements and expectations will remain the same.


A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation route and the Designated Rescue Area. This is an area where emergency service personnel will go first to look for individuals who need assistance in exiting the building. Students who might need assistance should identify themselves to the teaching faculty.

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Last modified: February 23, 2006