ENGL 212
Imagining the World, 1096-1650 Spring 2015
Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
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Class Details

As part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative, this course examines the identities that Medieval and early modern Christians and others (for example, Jews and Muslims) imagined for each other and themselves in ways that still linger powerfully today–to give just one example, in Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa against the United States, which describes Americans as participants in the same “crusader campaigns” inaugurated by Pope Urban II at the dawn of the First Crusade in 1095. The course will be divided into three units: Inventing the West, Inventing the East, Inventing the Future. The first will explore the monstrous origins of England and Ireland as well as trace the attempts to create a united West through the crusades (as proclaimed by Urban II, and as witnessed by a Jew, Solomon Bar Samson, from massacred Mainz). We’ll uncover the beginnings of the King Arthur stories, as well as the ways that Islamic travelers viewed and helped to define “Western” practices (Usamah ibn Muqidh). The second will look at travel narratives (Marco Polo, John Mandeville) that helped shape the world of Christopher Columbus’s “Four Voyages.” The third unit turns to Utopian texts: we will discover imagined communities from the land of the Cockayne, where peasants don’t exist and hungry monks fill themselves on roasted, flying geese, to Margaret Cavendish’s North Pole, where talking animals reconfigure early modern science in a way that helped inaugurate the genre of Science Fiction.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 4109
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: four to five essays totaling 20 pages
Prerequisites: a 100 level English course, or a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in English Literature or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate
Enrollment Preferences: sophomores and English Majors who have yet to take a Gateway course
Distributions: Division I Writing Skills Exploring Diversity Initiative
Attributes: ENGL 200-level Gateway Courses
ENGL Literary Histories A

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