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ARTH 340

Love and War in Medieval Art and Literature

"Love is a kind of war, and no assignment for cowards." Thus spoke Ovid in c. 2 B.C.E. with great pertinence to love and war in the Middle Ages and to the endeavors of this class. I propose to work with you through three forms of vernacular writing and imagery: war epic poems, Arthurian romances, and allegorical love poetry. All three of these forms were articulated in the incredibly rich 12th - 14th centuries, though often they refer to much earlier periods. All three of these forms flourished outside the purview (and approval) of the Church. And all three of these forms interacted with that most troublesome (because uncontrolled) of all entities: the secular image. Both the texts and images of medieval love and war existed without the sanction or authority of sacred text (i.e. the Bible in its many medieval manifestations). This "unmoored" quality resulted in an especially productive, volatile and fascinating interaction between orality, memory, writing, and transmission. The course seeks to be aware of how "timeless" stories move between various verbal and visual forms, what the impacts of those forms are on the stories, and what happens to them in our modern era (where they are still consistently translated into film and further fiction).

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course