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Medieval Literature:

An introductory Prezi for the elective HS course Medieval, Gothic, and Horror Literature

Robert Woerheide

on 3 January 2015

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Transcript of Medieval Literature:

Medieval Themes
What did you guys come up with?
Tracing this Darkness
in Gothic, Fantasy, Horror Literature
This brutal, cruel, frightening period of European history has a lasting impact on English literature.
What is Medieval?
Medieval = "Medium Aevum" (LA) or Middle Age
The Big Names
in Medieval Literature
Beowulf, by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon author
What We'll Accomplish in this Course
Medieval Literature:
Literature in the Middle Ages
Life in Medieval Europe
The beginning of the Middle Ages is called the "Dark Ages" with good reason ...
"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura ché la diritta via era smarrita."
A course tracing the Middle Ages
through Gothic, Fantasy,
& Horror Literature

• The historical context of "Medieval"
• What characteristics are borrowed from the Medieval
• Important works from these genres, and their authors
• How these genres are connected by a Medieval thread
• The historical trends and evolution of these genres
• The unique cultural position of these genres
• Identify and interrelate elements within these genres
• Write and publish an enjoyable, arresting, or memorable short story using elements from these genres
1,000 years:
From 500 CE (fall of Western Roman Empire)
to 1500 CE (the Renaissance)
(Take notes on this)
Writing was dominated by Latin, and by church and religious writing--but not exclusively.
The "codex" was a critical advance in book making technology, and helped exponentially proliferate literature during this period. Who wants to read a scroll, after all! Pages are much easier.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Middle Ages
Thomas Cole's "The Course of Empire: Destruction"
Leonardo da Vinci's
"The Vitruvian Man"
c.1490 CE
(Take notes on this)
Anonymous painting by a monk, showing an early Medieval codex "bookshelf"
When we say "themes," what do we
In your notes, take a minute to write down three
themes that you expect to be explored by Medieval
writers--themes we find in Medieval literature.
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,
by anonymous English author
The Song of Roland, by anonymous
French author
The Divine Comedy, by Dante Alighieri
"I was born and raised over the beautiful
river Arno, in the large villa."
Dante: Inferno; Canto 23, lines 94-95
Life. Was. Hard.
Eventually, a system of Feudalism developed. It meant that the vast majority of people lived meager lives, essentially of servitude, with
very little property or
rights to speak of.
Daily life consisted of living in small, damp, dark homes, where disease spread easily. Everyone slept in one room, often
with their livestock. It
was like living in a barn.
Medicine and health conditions would be hard for us to recognize. People believed bathing caused disease, so they did it very rarely. Yet they also thought bad smells carried disease so they used a lot of scents and powders. Sins caused illness too, so they thought. There were no antibiotics, and no organized health care.
The Catholic church was the only religion in Europe. It was wealthy, and had its own laws. Catholic church officials were also very closely involved with the politics of the king—essentially serving as another arm of government.
Torture! There was plenty of it during the Middle Ages. Depending on your crime and class, you might be stretched on the rack, compressed by the "Scavenger's Daughter" until blood squirted out of your nose and ears, pulled apart by horses, had a "pear of anguish" put in your anus, vagina, or mouth, and stretched
open—sometimes pushing out
razors. Being burned at the stake
was getting
off easy.
(Take notes on this)
(Take notes on this)
To read more tortures, http://www.oddee.com/item_96596.aspx
How would this life effect
the literature or "popular culture"
of the Middle Ages?
Does it change the themes
you wrote down earlier?
Disease? Death?
What about elements of life that would become details in Middle Age writing?
War and weapons?
War raids? Raping and pillaging?
Church in politics?
The soul after death?
Violence, illness, illiteracy, cruelty, superstition, and a collapse of city life defined this era.
The collapse of the Western Roman Empire meant people had to fend for themselves, infrastructure went into disrepair,
and society was
sent very far
We can (and will) directly trace the themes, fears, wild imaginings, and superstitions of this period in writing from later generations.
"In the middle of the journey of life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost."
Dante Alighieri,
The Divine Comedy
Full transcript