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Detailed Course Information


Fall 2013
Mar 24, 2018
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SEARCH FOR HOLY GRAIL MODERN PERCEPTIONS OF THE MIDDLE AGES~ Is "one thousand years without a bath" an accurate description of the Middle Ages? Did King Arthur really exist? Does Braveheart or Robin Hood portray what life was really like? If not, where do these modern perceptions of the Middle Ages come from? These are just a few of the questions that I plan to explore in this colloquium. In order to answer these and other questions, we will examine the Middle Ages through writings of the time- what medieval people said about themselves. We will then compare and contrast their views with various modern views, including our own. The results should help us understand the past as well as the present. It has been said that "the past is a foreign country," and a visit to any foreign place puts our home in a new perspective. Along the way, I hope to prove that our perception of the Middle Ages reflects our time as much as it does theirs. In addition, the course will be great preparation for any trip you may take to Europe, like those offered through the Hiram Study Abroad Program. Modern Europe owes a great debt to its medieval past; many medieval legal, political, and religious theories as well as cathedrals, city walls, country churches, even private houses are still in use today. Understanding the people who built the major European countries will sharpen your comprehension of the modern world. Our exploration will include reading medieval literature such as Beowulf and The Lais of Marie de France as well as such modern fiction as Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, John Gardner's Grendel, and Sharan Newman's Guinevere. We will also investigate Hollywood's fascination with the medieval period through films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, and, of course, Robin Hood or Braveheart. Furthermore, I am planning a trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which will allow us to examine several works of medieval art. Assignments will include four essays and two oral presentations.
4.000 Credit hours

Levels: Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture

Freshman Colloquium Department

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