ENGL 127(F) The Celtic Other World: From Myth to Romance and Beyond (W)

Written down between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries in manuscripts like the Book of the Dun Cow (Irish) and the White Book of Rhydderch (Welsh), stories about the Celtic Other World sparkle even in translation. With delicate description, whimsical humor, exuberant excess, and heroic energy, they conjure up a world in which the boundaries between magic and reality collapse in unexpected, thought-provoking ways. In the Irish story "Da Derga's Hostel," a bird flies through a skylight to father the hero Conare Mar. In "The Wooing of Etain," a woman turns her rival into a scarlet fly. In the Welsh story "Culhwch and Olwen," the warrior Clust, though "buried seven fathoms in the earth," can still "hear an ant stirring from its bed in the morning fifty miles away." The magic of Arthurian romance is almost exclusively Celtic in origin. By Chretien de Troyes (twelfth-century France), we will read Yvain, The Knight with the Lion and Perceval, the Story of the Grail and from fourteenth-century England we will read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. From medieval romance, we will follow the influence of the Celtic Other World in Shakespearean comedy (Midsummer Night's Dream), and in romantic, Victorian, and early modern poetry by Keats, Tennyson, and Yeats. The goal of the course, in addition to its particular subject matter, is to develop effective reading and writing strategies for works of different genres and time periods. Format: discussion/seminar. Requirements: weekly writing assignments, both formal and informal, including required electronic journal postings. Students will do 20 pages of writing in the form of frequent short papers and will be evaluated on writing and class participation. No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 19). Preference to first-year students.