Fall 2011

Encountering Islam in Medieval and Renaissance Literature

Listed in: English, as ENGL-300


Jane P. Degenhardt (Section 01)


[before 1800]  This course provides an introduction to some of the most popular texts of the medieval and Renaissance periods in England by focusing on stories of Christian-Muslim encounter.  These stories of interfaith conflict and union offer an important prehistory to the highly-charged relations between Christians and Muslims today.  Such interfaith encounters lay at the center of numerous early modern texts, generating a wide variety of stories about love, warfare, friendship, and conversion.  We will place these stories in their proper historical contexts, learning about the history of the Crusades as well as about the rise of English commerce with the Ottoman empire.  How did literature contribute to the formations of religious, national, and racial identity?  We will consider the interrelations between literary form and cultural history, as well as the significance of genre in shaping stories of Christian-Muslim encounter.  Texts include poetry, prose, and drama by such authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Mandeville, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Mary Wortley Montagu, and others.

Fall semester.  Five College Professor Degenhardt.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011