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Medieval English Literatures: Middle English Fairy Romances


Dozent/inJan-Peer Hartmann
SemesterWintersemester 2023/24
Veranstaltungsumfang2 SWS
RaumKL 32/102 Übungsraum (Habelschwerdter Allee 45)

Do 12:00–14:00

In contemporary popular culture, fairies are usually depicted as tiny humanoid beings (often female) with wands and wings, such as Peter Pan’s Tinker Bell or Cicely Mary Barker’s flower fairies, and are associated with magic and whimsy. In his essay ‘On Fairy Stories’, J.R.R. Tolkien blamed Renaissance writers William Shakespeare and Michael Drayton for these clichés. But what, then, are their medieval counterparts like? What is their literary function, what cultural stereotypes do they represent? In this class, we will read a selection of Middle English romances, a genre where fairies often play a prominent role, and analyze their depictions and literary functions. Students should be willing to encounter medieval texts without preconceived notions of ‘the Middle Ages’ and to read them in the original language. The final mark will be based on regular and active participation and a final essay of 2,000 words, to be handed in by the end of the semester.