Coming of Age in the Middle Ages
It is often said that adolescence is a modern invention, and that people in earlier times expected children to act like adults as soon as they were physically able to do so. But the literature that survives from the European Middle Ages reveals a deep preoccupation with questions of how to form socially-competent individuals. What role did literature play in disseminating norms and models for adult behavior? This course introduces students to a range of works from 1100 to 1500CE that portray the process of becoming an adult or prescribe what it should look like: behavior manuals, treatises, epic narratives, romances, and literary 'letters' from parents to children. Students gain familiarity with a range of historic genres and develop skills in close reading and critical analysis. Readings are in English.