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British Literature: The Middle Ages

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by

Jennifer Ryer

on 31 January 2011

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Transcript of British Literature: The Middle Ages

What is British Literature?
Old English Literature
Norman Conquest
Heroes & Kinsmen
Courage
Loyalty to lord and war band
Tribes based more on family relationships (biological and adoptive) than geography
rife with violence and doom
void of romantic love
uses dark humor with irony and understatement
often elegaic
mixes pagan and Christian influences
Christians & Pagans
conquest and war
earthly power, wealth, glory
loyalty to tribe / family
brotherhood of man
forgiveness & redemption
focus on attaining peace in afterlife
Oral vs. Written
Vernacular poetry
Low/no literacy
Poets were conservators of culture and history and honored servants of nobility
Copies made by clerics
Clerics acted as editors & archivists
Manuscripts were rare and ornate
courage, loyalty, endurance
importance of spiritual life
transience of life & worldly goods
elegy & loss
power of speech/word
A Brief Timeline
end of Roman occupation
Anglo-Saxon invasion
St. Augustine begins conversion of Anglo-Saxons
597
c. 420
c. 450
Bede's Ecclesiastical History
731
Beowulf composed
750?
beginning of Viking raids
797
full-scale Viking conquest of Anglo-Saxons
860s-891
Alfred the Great reigns
871-899
manuscripts of poems
late 900s
Edgar reigns
973-975
1066
600-700? A.D.
Germanic/Anglo-Saxon Heroic Code
Old English poetry
Pagan Values
Christian Values
Merging
Oral
Written
Middle English Literature
More Brief Timeline
1087
Domesday Book
death of William the Conqueror
1154(-1189)
Henry II reigns
1170
Assassination of Thomas a Becket
John signs Magna Carta
1215
1337
Hundred Years War begins
1348
Black Plague
1370s?
Sir Gawain
Julian's Book of Showings
Those Who Fight
Those Who Pray
Those Who Work
Courtly Love
Conscientious etiquette
Generosity & hospitality
Modesty & humility
Faith in God & trust in friends
Worship of women (literary)
Romance
Courtly love
Temptation
Triumph of character
Magic & miracles
Diminishment of Church authority
Corruption & infighting
Popular mysticism
Christian literature
Church Changes
Christian Writing
Texts for private, personal religion
More lay familiarity with religious text & dogma
Affective piety
1378
Great Schism
1381
Peasants' Revolt (a.k.a. Wat Tyler's Rebellion)
Social Change
Emerging merchant & professional classes
Urban wealthy
Peasant solidarity
More opportunities for women
Lit for the People
More lay literacy
Spread of ideas through oratory
Interdependence between oral and written literature
Full transcript