Dr. Natalie Grinnell

Reeves Family Professor in Humanities


English 209:  Medieval Monsters:
Gender, Race and the Other in Medieval Literature

Class Time and Location:

2:00-3:20pm, MW, Main 222

Course Description:

This course will explore the definitions of the human in medieval literature through an examination of monstrosity with special emphasis on gender, race, and sexuality.

Course Objectives:

  • Students will demonstrate the ability to read and write about medieval literature in writing and discussion
  • Students will reflect on the definitions and intersections of race and gender in medieval setting and cultures as reflected in literary texts

Course Content

Our course readings and classroom discussions may sometimes focus on mature, difficult, and potentially challenging topics. Readings and discussions might elicit strong feelings. Some may have emotional responses to the readings or to peers’ understanding of the readings; everyone should feel responsible for creating a space that is both intellectually rigorous and respectful and come to class prepared to discuss the readings in a mature and respectful way.

Required Textbooks

  • Medieval Monstrosity by Urbanski (ISBN 9780367197421)
  • Beowulf, ed. Liuzza (ISBN 9781554810642)
  • Melusine by Jean D’Arras (ISBN 9780271054155)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, ed. Armitage (ISBN 9780393334159)
  • The Book of John Mandeville (ISBN 9780872209350)

Please note: students will need hard copy, not digital editions, of books to use in class. Additional reading may be found on the class Moodle page.

Course Requirements

  1. Class participation
  2. Two short essays
  3. Three short exams, one of which will be taken during finals week
  4. Sporadic quizzes and exercises
  5. Regular attendance

Grading Breakdown

  • Exams: 40%
  • Two short essays: 45% (Essay 1: 20%; Essay 2: 25%)
  • Other: 15%