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Exploration : Bad Romance: The Breton Lay in Medieval England

Faculté de gestion: Faculté des lettres

Responsable(s): Rory Critten
Intervenant(s): -

Période de validité: 2020 -> 2020

Pas d'horaire défini.


Semestre d'automne
2 heures par semaine
28 heures par semestre

Langue(s) d'enseignement: anglais
Public: Oui
Crédits: 0


To introduce students to the rich, cross-Channel tradition of medieval vernacular fantasy writing and to consider some of the recurrent topics it addresses (e.g. composition of the family and relationships between men and women).

To enhance students' reading facility in Middle English. The goal is that students will more easily be able to access Middle English texts in student editions.


If, as Nicola McDonald has written, 'romance [...] is the pre-eminent imaginary space in medieval English literature in which the transgression of cultural boundaries is both embodied and explored', then the Breton lay offers a particularly intense experience of this dynamic genre. The Breton lay is a subgenre of romance, defined primarily by its brevity and by its self-presentation (whether fictional or not) as a remnant of celtic oral culture. Fantastical elements - a werewolf, a fairy lady, a devil-baby - rub shoulders with a range of recognizably human motives in these works: envy, jealousy, sexual desire, and pride. Texts belonging to this type were popular in England throughout the Middle Ages, where they were written in French and in English: we will be reading examples of the genre both in Middle English and (in translation) Old French. This class will appeal to students whose interests cover (among other topics) gender studies, historical fantasy literature, multilingualism, translation studies, and Celtic studies.


There are two stages in the evaluation of this class:

1) A midterm exam (week 7), 30%: students identify a passage from one of the set texts discussed in class and write a critical commentary on it. A list of extracts that might appear on the exam will be circulated beforehand.

2) A final exam (week 13), 70%: choosing one from two essay questions, students write an extended response to a prompt set by the instructor.

Exigences du cursus d'études

Discovery: Medieval English

Informations supplémentaires


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Swiss University