Prof. James Cain
21L.460 / SP.514 / WGS.514
This survey provides a general introduction to medieval European literature (from Late Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century) from the perspective of women writers from a variety of cultures, social backgrounds, and historical timeperiods. Though much of the class will be devoted to exploring the evolution of a new literary tradition by and for women from its earliest emergence in the West, wider historical and cultural movements will also be addressed: the Fall of the Roman Empire, the growth of religious communities, the shift from orality to literacy, the culture of chivalry and courtly love, the emergence of scholasticism and universities, changes in devotional practices, the persecution of heretics, the rise of nationalism and class consciousness. Authors will include some of the most famous women of the period: Hildegard of Bingen, Heloise of Paris, Marie de France, Christine de Pizan, Joan of Arc, Margery Kempe, along with many interesting and intriguing though lesser known figures.