Medieval Studies 301


MEDIEVAL STUDIES 301A: European Literature of the 5th to the 14th Century:
Instruction, Fear, and Entertainment: Short Story in Medieval Spain, Italy and France
(3 credits)

Term 1: TTh, 2:00-3:30pm
Raúl Álvarez-Moreno, Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies
Office: Buchanan Tower 823; phone: 604 822-4039

This course introduces students to the characteristics, varieties and functions of short narratives from the twelfth to the early sixteenth century in Romance cultures. We will discuss topics such as the interplay of local folklore and external influences (European, Persian, Indian, Arabic, Jewish…), structural components (oral features, moral, literary types…), literary techniques (tension, knockout, symbolism, humor…), ideological purposes, gender roles, and different versions in other languages, cultures and times. Subjects of short stories will cover a full medieval range from sacred to bawdy: love, infidelity, food, pacts with the Devil, witchcraft, alchemy, warfare (i.e., Crusades), chivalry, friendship, torture, mercantile life, guile and deceit of all kinds, historical characters, or the ever-present conflict between Providence and Fortune in the governing of human life. Since many stories coax readers into practical dilemmas, we will also debate ethical, economic, political and human issues relevant to this day. Texts will be provided in English accompanied whenever possible with the original in the specific Romance language or Latin. Students will be allowed to work on short stories written originally in other languages (i.e., German, Celtic, Scandinavian languages, Dutch/Flemish, etc) for their research projects as long as they provide a translation into English. We will also use film, video, music, and art to enhance the understanding of the period and its literature.

Required Text:

Appelbaum, Stanley. Medieval Tales and Stories: 108 Prose Narratives of the Middle Ages

Original Sources for Short Stories include:

1) Material originally in Spanish, Galician-Portuguese, Catalan, Latin or Arabic

Disciplina Clericalis by Pedro Alfonso (Moshé Sefardí)
Kalila and Dimna
Tales of Sendebar
Book of Exempla
– Aesopus Fables
Book of Cats
– Cantigas and Miracles
by Alfonso X
– The Miracles of Our Lady by Gonzalo de Berceo
Tales of Count Lucanor by don Juan Manuel

2) Material from Italy

– Il Novellino by Fabio Benvenuto
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
– Pecorone by Giovanni Fiorentino
Trecentonovelle by Franco Sacchetti.
Fioretti Di San Francesco (The Little Flowers of St. Francis)
Facetiae by Poggio Bracciolini
Novelle by Matteo Bandello

3) Material originally in French/Anglo-Norman, Latin, and Occitan

– Lais
by Marie de France
Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles
– Roman de Renart.
by Pierre de St. Cloud
– The Seven Sages of Rome or Dolopathos

There is no pre-requisite for this course.