Course module - The Word: Performing, Writing, Reading the Bible, c1380-c1611
Code : ENGL33032 Credit rating: 20 Semester : 2
- To familiarise students with selected narratives from different translations and versions of the bible;
- To explore the ways in which late medieval and early modern writers and artists dramatised and interpreted biblical narrative in a range of ways (including orality and performativity);
- To examine the political and social context (c.1380-c.1611);
- To consider the bible as literature (literariness and book history), performance and art;
- Tto consider some of the questions of language, translation, interpretation, invention and authority that are raised by the bible and its translation into English.
Objectives (Learning Outcomes)
By the end of this course, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate contextual knowledge and knowledge relevant to literary studies (about questions of authorship, the truth value of language, the ‘rise’ of English as a literary language, authority, interpretation);
- Demonstrate an informed understanding of the importance of the bible as source for religious and social practice as well as literary developments;
- Demonstrate a familiarity with different models of creation and reception (author, audience, viewer, participant, reader);
- Demonstrate an awareness of the intertextual (and intermedial) nature of biblical narrative;
- Evidence close reading skills;
- Show anhanced knowledge of literary genres (familiarity with a range of biblical narratives as well as Middle English literary and performative genres such as drama, lyric and sermon);
- Demonstrate the ability to read Middle English and study the changes in literary English between the late fourteenth and early seventeenth centuries (language skills);
- Show familiarity with questions of authority, interpretation, access, truth (interpretive and critical skills);
- Evidence consideration of the impact of different media as well as of technological changes (contextual knowledge);
- Demonstrate linguistic skills, close reading skills, critical analysis and research skills;
- Demonstrate critical thinking;
- Show the ability to formulate an argument;
- Evidence historical knowledge;
- Demonstrate familiarity with online resources;
- Evidence experience in engaging intellectually with cultural, historical, religious, social and linguistic differences.
Comparative analysis either between: (a) different translations; (b) biblical and other narrative source; (c) biblical and other representational medium, 2,500 words (40%); one 3,500-word essay (60%)
THIS COURSE IS NOT AVAILABLE AS FREE-CHOICE.
This course will introduce students to one of the most influential and contested texts of Western literature, which shaped the subject matter, style and diction of writers as distant in time and place as John Milton, Emily Dickinson and James Joyce (to name just a few): the bible. It will consider the bible as performance and as literature, as well as its place in literary history.
The bible was not directly accessible to most people in England until the advent of printing and its translation into the vernacular (between the late fourteenth to sixteenth century). Considered too powerful and sacred a text to be entrusted to the masses, it was nonetheless at the very heart of popular religious life, shaping understandings of individual and communal identity, as well as representational and textual practices. In this sense biblical narrative was all-pervasive, as people encountered it through a range of performative and artistic media, such as sermons, lyrics, drama, music, sculpture, stained glass, wood carvings and painting. During the sixteenth century, England witnessed a series of religious ‘reformations’ which were to change the political, religious and literary landscape dramatically. As familiar forms of worship and their media were violently destroyed, and as new ones emerged, questions about how one should read the bible – how it was to be interpreted, and who was authorised to do so – became, literally, matters of life and death. These developments had an important impact in shaping literary studies in later centuries, and to this day.
These four strands – the bible’s literary influence; its social and political context; its mediation through a range of artistic formats; and its contribution to theories of reading and interpretation ? provide the framework for this course. We will be considering selected narratives from early vernacular versions of the bible (primarily from the following translations and versions: the Wycliffite Bible, versions by Tyndale and Coverdale, the Great Bible, the Douai-Rheims version and the King James Bible) with late medieval interpretations of these stories in a variety of genres and media. The course includes trips to the John Rylands Library and the City Gallery.
Bernau, Dr Anke
PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE FOR 2013-2014
Lecture: Tuesday, 1.00-2.00
Seminar: Tuesday, 3.00-5.00; Thursday, 2.00-4.00
One 1-hour lecture plus one 2-hour seminar per week.
J. J. Anderson (ed.), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Pearl; Cleanness; Patience (Dent: 1996).
Peter Happé, English Mystery Plays: A Selection (Penguin, 1975).
David Jones, Friars' Tales: Sermon Exempla from the British Isles (Manchester University Press, 2011).
Greg Walker, Medieval Drama: An Anthology (Blackwell, 2000).
Siegfried Wenzel, Preaching in the Age of Chaucer: Selected Sermons in Translation (Catholic University of America Press, 2008).
[Selected online sources from the TEAMS Middle English Series, for bible translations, as well as early printed versions available on Early English Books Online. Selections could include:
Popular verse, such as “The Wounds and the Sins”:
The Prologue to the Wycliffite Bible, on interpretation:
The Middle English Metrical Paraphrase of the Old Testament: Introduction, ed. by Michael Livingston
The Marian poem, 'The Dispute between Mary and the Cross'
The Northern Passion
'The Nativity' (Marian Lyrics no. 15-30)
John Audelay, Carol 6 'Day of the Nativity'