Department of English

Zachary Ryan Hines


LecturerPh.D., University of Texas at Austin

Postdoctoral Lecturer
Zachary Ryan Hines

Contact

Interests


Chaucer and Middle English literature; medieval manuscript culture; books and libraries; the English Middle Ages. Also, 'Quad'.

Biography


Zachary Hines is a postdoctoral lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Texas at Austin. His research, situated at the intersection of literary studies and book history, traces the manipulation and reconfiguration of Middle English manuscripts by their owners, readers, and institutional custodians.

Current Book Project:

Edifying Books: Medieval Manuscripts and their Postmedieval Readers

 

Hines Research Links:

Stanford Text Technologies

Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography Interview 

"On Slow Scholarship (in the Digital Age)": Part One / Part Two

 

Courses


E 321 • Shakespeare

35455 • Spring 2020
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 206
GC

E 321 l Shakespeare

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35455

Semester:  Spring 2020

Cross-lists:  n/a

 

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description: This course introduces students to the idea of the Book in premodern England through a selection of plays by William Shakespeare, one of the most important writers in the English tradition.  The word “book” occurs in thirty-six out of thirty-eight of Shakespeare’s plays: it is used to signify everything from letters and almanacs to Bibles and tablets.  But it is also used more figuratively to reference concepts like conscience and memory or qualities such as beauty and virtue.  In reading six plays by Shakespeare, we will pay particular attention to the role of books, both material and metaphorical, noting the various ways encounters with Shakespeare on stage and in print are always informed by, and contingent on, acts of reading.  We will also stage encounters of our own with early modern books by visiting the Harry Ransom Center, where we will see early printed editions of Shakespeare’s works (including a copy of the venerable First Folio, printed in 1623).

 

Texts (subject to change): Pelican Shakespeare editions of the following plays: Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like it, and Two Noble Kinsmen. I will provide a digital version of Hamlet (Q1).

 

Requirements & Grading: Exams 50%; Final Paper 30%; Attendance/Participation 20%

E 363 • Milton

35590 • Spring 2020
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM PAR 304
E

E 363 l Milton

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35590

Semester:  Spring 2020

Cross-lists:  n/a

 

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description: This course introduces students to the work of seventeenth-century intellectual John Milton, one of the most important authors in the English tradition, through selections of his poetry, prose, and correspondence.  In reading major works produced during several distinct phases of the author’s career, we will pay particular attention to Milton’s engagement with the religious and political controversies of seventeenth-century England. In addition to Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, students will consider the “dramatic” tragedy Samson Agonistes, his most celebrated prose work Aeropagitica, and several other poems, tracts, and letters.  The possible discovery in 2019 of Milton’s personal copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio will also serve as our entry into book history: considering how the publication history of Milton’s works affected his reception by contemporary and later readers, our discussions will touch on issues ranging from censorship and abridgement to licensing and copyright.

 

Texts: The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton(Random House, 2007).

 

Requirements & Grading (tentative): Exams 50%; Final Paper 30%; Attendance/Participation 20%.

E 314J • Literature And Film

34360 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.122
Wr

E 314J  l  1-Literature and Film

 

Instructor: Cressler, L

Unique: 34360

Semester: Fall 2019

Cross-lists: n/a

 

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description: This course will examine the related themes of justice, retribution, and vengeance beginning with English Renaissance drama and proceeding through 20th century film.  We will pay particular attention to questions of ethics and to both early modern and contemporary discourses of gender, sexuality, and race.  In addition to assessing each text on its own terms, we will give attention to the relationships between texts and authorial influence, questioning how adapting a text or narrative from one medium to another alters our understanding of central thematic concerns.

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

 

Tentative Texts:  William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.  Further texts to be determined.

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, one of which must be revised and resubmitted (70% of the final grade).  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the instructor. Essay 1 will carry 15% of the overall course grade, essay 2 will carry 25%, and essay 3 will carry 30%. Revision grades will be averaged with initial essay grades when submitted.

 

The remaining 30% of the final course grade will be divided as follows:  Participation and attendance, 10%; In-class reading quizzes, 5%; Short reaction papers, 15%.

E 314J • Literature And Film

34370 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CMA 5.190
Wr

E 314J  l  1-Literature and Film

 

Instructor: Cressler, L

Unique: 34370

Semester: Fall 2019

Cross-lists: n/a

 

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description: This course will examine the related themes of justice, retribution, and vengeance beginning with English Renaissance drama and proceeding through 20th century film.  We will pay particular attention to questions of ethics and to both early modern and contemporary discourses of gender, sexuality, and race.  In addition to assessing each text on its own terms, we will give attention to the relationships between texts and authorial influence, questioning how adapting a text or narrative from one medium to another alters our understanding of central thematic concerns.

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

 

Tentative Texts:  William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.  Further texts to be determined.

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, one of which must be revised and resubmitted (70% of the final grade).  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the instructor. Essay 1 will carry 15% of the overall course grade, essay 2 will carry 25%, and essay 3 will carry 30%. Revision grades will be averaged with initial essay grades when submitted.

 

The remaining 30% of the final course grade will be divided as follows:  Participation and attendance, 10%; In-class reading quizzes, 5%; Short reaction papers, 15%.

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

34385 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM JES A203A
Wr

E 314L  l 3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas

 

Instructor: Shingavi, S

Unique #:  34385

Semester:  Fall 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description:  In this class, we will be interested in understanding the relationship between the artist and the state, especially in those instances where state power is used to silence imaginative writing that threatens its legitimacy.  We will also be interested in thinking about how free speech and “liberalism” (and the countries which putatively defend it) are also cynically deployed in the context of international diplomacy in the service of powerful nations against weaker ones.  At the heart of our discussion will be the debates surrounding Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Versesand the controversies that emerged in the wake of the Danish cartoons.  But we will also look at other contexts:  Iraq under Saddam Hussein; Palestine under Israeli occupation; Pakistan under the Zia regime; and the United States after 9/11.  When is free speech a principle and when is it political. (An implicit question: how do we make sense of Islam in the context of its censorship?)

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

Students in this class will be exposed to a number of political, historical, and literary contexts and be expected to engage with the readings in class in a thoughtful way.

 

Texts:  Rushdie, Satanic Verses.

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which will be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  The remaining 25% will be determined by short assignments, quizzes, and participation.

E 321 • Shakespeare

35450 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 105
GC

E 321  l  Shakespeare

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35450

Semester:  Spring 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction: No

 

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description: This course introduces students to the idea of the Book in premodern England through a selection of plays by William Shakespeare, one of the most important writers in the English tradition.  The word “book” occurs in thirty-six out of thirty-eight of Shakespeare’s plays: it is used to signify everything from letters and almanacs to Bibles and tablets.  But it is also used more figuratively to reference concepts like conscience and memory or qualities such as beauty and virtue.  In reading six plays by Shakespeare, we will pay particular attention to the role of books, both material and metaphorical, noting the various ways encounters with Shakespeare on stage and in print are always informed by, and contingent on, acts of reading.  We will also stage encounters of our own with early modern books by visiting the Harry Ransom Center, where we will see early printed editions of Shakespeare’s works (including a copy of the venerable First Folio, printed in 1623).

 

Texts: Pelican Shakespeare editions of the following plays: Titus AndronicusThe TempestMerry Wives of WindsorAs You Like it, and Two Noble Kinsmen. I will provide a digital version of Hamlet (Q1)

 

Requirements & Grading: Exams 50%; Final Paper 30%; Attendance/Participation 20%

E 326L • Survey Middle English Lang/Lit

35484 • Spring 2019
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.122

E 326L  l  Survey of Middle English Language and Literature

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35484

Semester:  Spring 2019

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction: No

 

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description: This course introduces students to a range of literary works in Middle English, a period in the development of the English language spanning some five hundred years. In reading selections from authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Lydgate, Margery Kempe, Thomas Malory, William Langland, Julian of Norwich, John Mandeville, and others, students will encounter some of the touchstones of medieval literary culture.  We will consider Middle English works in a number of different genres: hagiography, allegory, drama, travel memoir, epistolary writing, autobiography, mysticism, Romance, lyric, and even what we would today call fan-fiction.  Placing these works in their historical and literary contexts, this course will examine the circumstances of their composition, transmission, and circulation, with a special focus on the manuscript culture in which they were produced and consumed.  We will also visit the Harry Ransom Center on campus where we will see medieval manuscripts in the flesh – literally, on the animal skins on which they were written – as we work to recapture something of medieval textual culture before the advent of print.  Although we will engage with some of the more difficult material in Modern English translation, students can expect to become proficient in reading Middle English.

 

Required Texts: Selections from Sir Gawain and the Green KnightThe Book of Margery KempeLe Morte d’ArthurThe Travels of Sir John MandevilleThe Legend of Good WomenAncrene WisseRevelations of Divine Love, the Livesof Sts. Margaret and Katherine, Confessio AmantisPiers Plowman,Mankind, the Paston Letters, and more.

 

Requirements & Grading: Two examinations: 25% and 25%; final paper: 30%; class preparation and participation (including any in-class assignments): 20%.

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

35105 • Fall 2018
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 204
Wr

E 314L  l  3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35105

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description:  In order to avoid material they might find objectionable, Geoffrey Chaucer once recommended facetiously that sensitive readers “turne over the leef and chese another tale.”  While it is unsurprising that the threat of publishing subversive, heretical, or immoral content was manifest in the fourteenth century, even today a considerable number of books are subject to censorship or even outright bans.  In “Banned Books and Novel Ideas” we consider works of literature that have violated community values, threatened national governments, and imagined dystopian futures.  We read not in search of shocking violence, transgressive sexuality, or dangerous polemic, but rather to discover what about their depiction inspires proscription.  To understand the power of language and literature to incite is also to discover what these books can tell us about our own values and beliefs.

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

 

Tentative Texts:  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley • Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  There may also be short reading quizzes and in-class presentations (25% of the final grade).

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

35107 • Fall 2018
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 206
GCWr

E 314L  l  3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas

 

Instructor:  Shingavi, S

Unique #:  35107

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description:  In this class, we will be interested in understanding the relationship between the artist and the state, especially in those instances where state power is used to silence imaginative writing that threatens its legitimacy.  We will also be interested in thinking about how free speech and “liberalism” (and the countries which putatively defend it) are also cynically deployed in the context of international diplomacy in the service of powerful nations against weaker ones.  At the heart of our discussion will be the debates surrounding Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses and the controversies that emerged in the wake of the Danish cartoons.  But we will also look at other contexts:  Iraq under Saddam Hussein; Palestine under Israeli occupation; Pakistan under the Zia regime; and the United States after 9/11.  When is free speech a principle and when is it political.  (An implicit question: how do we make sense of Islam in the context of its censorship?)

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

Students in this class will be exposed to a number of political, historical, and literary contexts and be expected to engage with the readings in class in a thoughtful way.  This course carries the Global Cultures flag.  Global Cultures courses are designed to increase your familiarity with cultural groups outside the United States.  You should therefore expect a substantial portion of your grade to come from assignments covering the practices, beliefs, and histories of several non-U.S. cultural groups, past or present.

 

Texts:  Rushdie, Satanic Verses.

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which will be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  The remaining 25% will be determined by short assignments, quizzes, and participation.

E 376 • Chaucer

35864 • Fall 2018
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 204
GC

E 376  l  Chaucer

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  35862

Semester:  Fall 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

 

Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

 

Description:  This course introduces students to Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the most important poets in the English tradition, through an intensive reading of his most famous poem, the Canterbury Tales.  In reading Chaucer’s unfinished medieval story collection, we will pay particular attention to the medieval veneration of “old bookes,” noting throughout the semester the various ways Chaucer’s “book” looks toward and depends upon other texts for its significance.  We will also perform some book veneration of our own by visiting the Harry Ransom Center, where we will see medieval manuscripts of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the flesh – literally, on the animal skins on which they were written – and in facsimile as we work to recapture something of late medieval textual culture before the advent of print.  We will also take some time to look at the transmission and development of Chaucer’s works by looking at translations, popular serializations, and adaptations of the Canterbury Tales in modern culture.

 

Required Texts:  • The Canterbury Tales: Seventeen Tales and the General Prologue, ed. V. A. KOLVE, GLENDING OLSON, Third Edition, Paperback; May 2018.  ISBN: 978-1-324-00056-3 • Helen Cooper, Oxford Guides to Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales. 2nd ed. OUP, 1996

 

Requirements & Grading:  Three examinations: 25%; 25%, and 40%; Class preparation and participation (including any in-class assignments): 10%.

E 314L • Texts And Contexts-Hon

34325 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 305
Wr

E 314L  l  4-Texts and Contexts-HONORS

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  34325

Semester:  Spring 2018

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  English Honors, Plan I Honors

Computer Instruction:  No

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).

 

Description:   Geoffrey Chaucer opens his fourteenth-century poem The Parliament of Fowls with a memorable analogy: 

 

For out of old fields, as men say,

Comes all this new corn from year to year;

And out of old books, in good faith,

Comes all this new science that men hear.

 

Reading old books, Chaucer’s narrator contends, generates new knowledge.  But how?  To answer this question, we will read, discuss, and write on literary texts … about books.  This course asks students to consider how “newe science” can be informed by, or even contingent on, the contexts in which a literary text was produced, disseminated, and consumed.  In particular, we will observe how historically specific events, disputes, and literary trends shape meaning and knowledge over time.  Our investigation will explore not just what we read, but how we read.

 

This course is designed to prepare students for the English major.  In addition to our discussions about context, students will examine stylistic and aesthetic elements (e.g. the author’s use of character, setting, imagery, language patterns, and even sentence syntax) and how those elements contribute to the work’s broader themes and meanings.  As a group, we will visit the Harry Ransom Center on campus, and each student will prepare an in-class presentation on an object from the collection.

 

Tentative Texts:  Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, A.S. Byatt’s Possession, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, and Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film adaptation of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose.  We will also read short works by Jorge Luis Borges, John Capgrave, Geoffrey Chaucer, M.R. James, and others.

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the instructor (75% of the final grade).  There will also be an in-class presentation (20% of the final grade) and short reaction papers (5% of the final grade).

E 314L • Banned Books And Novel Ideas

34785 • Spring 2017
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM MEZ 1.120
Wr

E 314L  l  3-Banned Books and Novel Ideas

 

Instructor:  Hines, Z

Unique #:  34785

Semester:  Spring 2017

Cross-lists:  n/a

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

 

Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

 

Description:  In order to avoid material they might find objectionable, Geoffrey Chaucer once recommended facetiously that sensitive readers “turne over the leef and chese another tale.”  While it is unsurprising that the threat of publishing subversive, heretical, or immoral content was manifest in the fourteenth century, even today a considerable number of books are subject to censorship or even outright bans.  In “Banned Books and Novel Ideas” we consider works of literature that have violated community values, threatened national governments, and imagined dystopian futures.  We read not in search of shocking violence, transgressive sexuality, or dangerous polemic, but rather to discover what about their depiction inspires proscription.  To understand the power of language and literature to incite is also to discover what these books can tell us about our own values and beliefs.

 

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines.  They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities.  Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

 

This course contains a writing flag.  The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

 

Tentative Texts:  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood • Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley • Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

 

Requirements & Grading:  There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted.  Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade).  There may also be short reading quizzes and in-class presentations (25% of the final grade).

E 314L • Cult Classics

33865 • Fall 2015
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM MEZ 2.124
Wr

E 314L  l  9-Cult Classics

Instructor:  Zachary Hines

Unique #:  33865

Semester:  Fall 2015

Cross-lists:  n/a

Flags:  Writing

Restrictions:  n/a

Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: One of the following: E 603A, RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 603A.

Description: The common usage of the word ‘cult’ today might denote a variety of pejorative senses, particularly those that reference religious or political movements considered to be alternative or counter-cultural. The term originally comes to English, however, from the Latin noun, cultus, meaning “care, worship, or devotion,” and in the early western Roman church, for instance, cults dedicated to individual saints often formed around popular and influential literary documents. This course explores the ways cult followings seem to gather around literary narratives, and, in particular, three twentieth-century novels interested in themes of adolescence and identity, cultural disenfranchisement and loss of innocence.

The primary aim of this course is to help students develop and improve the critical reading, writing, and thinking skills needed for success in upper-division courses in English and other disciplines. They will also gain practice in using the Oxford English Dictionary and other online research tools and print resources that support studies in the humanities. Students will learn basic information literacy skills and models for approaching literature with various historical, generic, and cultural contexts in mind.

This course contains a writing flag. The writing assignments in this course are arranged procedurally with a focus on invention, development through instructor and peer feedback, and revision; they will comprise a major part of the final grade.

Tentative Texts: The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath; The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger; Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut.

Requirements & Grading: There will be a series of 3 short essays, the first of which must be revised and resubmitted. Subsequent essays may also be revised and resubmitted by arrangement with the Instructor (75% of the final grade). There may also be short reading quizzes and in-class presentations (25% of the final grade).

RHE 309K • Rhetoric Of Getting Medieval

44970 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.212
Wr

“Getting Medieval”: actor Ving Rhames’ infamous threat of revenge in Pulp Fiction has become a catchphrase for any action that is remotely archaic, violent, or dark.     What does it mean to “get medieval”?  While Quentin Tarantino’s notion of the Middle Ages might be very different from that of a medieval historian, the film’s dialogue reminds us that our collective past is ever-present in the modern and that the way we choose to utilize history says a great deal about our intentions, values, and expectations.  We find aspects of the medieval everywhere in contemporary American popular culture – films, novels, music, video games, board games, and more.  The pervasiveness of phenomena such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Horrible Histories or more recently, Game of Thrones and Pixar’s Brave, is striking.  Legends of King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Joan of Arc – told and re-told in so many different forms that the original histories or tales are forgotten or obscured – are regularly adapted and participate themselves in a dynamic public discourse about personal and cultural values.  This course seeks to consider the ways in which all texts – even those produced over a thousand years ago – contain or produce arguments (whether they are aware of it or not).  What is it about the Middle Ages that makes a medieval setting or culture attractive to contemporary authors, filmmakers, and other producers of text?  How do these arguments appropriate rhetorical strategies differently based on issues such as audience or real-world historical context?  How do popular forms of the medieval negotiate problems of cultural difference and engage with contemporary social and political controversies?  Finally, what do these texts argue about citizenship, nation, and community in contemporary times?

Assignments and Grading

Essay 1 - 10%

Essay 1 Revision - 10%

Essay 2 - 15%

Essay 2 Revision - 15%

Essay 3 - 20%

Short Writing Assignments - 20%

Annotated Bibliography - 5%

Oral Presentation - 5%

Peer Review - Mandatory

Required Texts and Course Readings

Lunsford, Andrea. EasyWriter: A Pocket Reference (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 0312650310).

Lunsford, Andrea and John Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument. 5th Ed. Boston:Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.

Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Penguin, 0140430644)

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