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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: Medieval Bodies: Integrity, Rupture and Metamorphosis (ELCF10076)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course focuses on the body in the Middle Ages as a site where different discourses were played out, a symbolic space that could be figured as either whole and integral, or unstable and unpredictable. The image of the body in medieval European cultures was open to the influence of ideology, politics, religion, and gender hierarchies, and while often presented in terms of oppositions: human and animal, body and spirit, male and female, the body was also conceived of as a fluid and changeable space. We will look at the various ways in which the image of the body is presented in a range of Old French texts.
Course description Academic Description: The course aims to enrich students' awareness of the diversity of medieval French texts and how these explore issues that are still extremely pertinent today, such as how we define 'human', how our notion of gender is culturally constructed, and how human consciousness and the human sense of subjectivity and identity relate to the body. In order to achieve this, the course introduces students to medieval French texts
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 Literature and Culture (ELCF08012) AND French 2 Language (ELCF08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Students may purchase copies of the Lettres Gothiques (Livre de Poche) editions of the set texts if they wish, but some copies will be available in the library.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 70%: essay (1800 words) - at end of the course

20%: oral presentation: in groups of 2-3, either in situ or PP + audio recording (embedded in PP or separate file)

10%: participation in discussion boards
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of attitudes towards the body in its socio-historical and cultural context.
  2. select and apply theoretical and methodological approaches in their critical evaluation of literary texts and their exploration of the body as a construct.
  3. critically analyse, interpret and review primary and secondary sources on the course bibliographies, and demonstrate an ability to synthesise ideas, concepts and issue
  4. construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and their contexts and to present them clearly in both oral and written form.
  5. work autonomously and take initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others¿ roles and responsibilities as part of a team.
Reading List
Set Texts: Heldris de Cornua¿lle, Le Roman de Silence. Published as: Silence: A Thirteenth-Century Romance, ed. and trans. By Sarah Roche-Mahdi (East Lansing: Colleagues Press, 1992). A selection of Old French fabliaux, in Fabliaux Érotiques, ed. and trans. by Luciano Rossi, Lettres Gothiques (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1992). Jean d¿Arras, Mélusine, ou La Noble Histoire de Lusignan, ed. and trans. by Jean-Jacques Vinncensini, Lettres Gothiques (Paris: Livre de Poche, 2003). Lais de Marie de France: ¿Bisclavret¿ and ¿Yonec¿, in Lais de Marie de France, ed. by Karl Warnke and trans. by Laurence Harf-Lancner, Lettres Gothiques (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1990). Clemence of Barking, La Vie de Sainte Cathérine The Life of Saint Catherine, ed. by William McBain, ANTS (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964). (Anglo-Norman French version). In Virgin Lives and Holy Deaths: Two Exemplary Biographies for Anglo-Norman Women, trans. by Jocelyn Wogan-Browne and Glyn S. Burgess (London: Dent, 1996). (English translation). La Folie Tristan d¿Oxford, in Tristan et Iseut, ed. and trans. by Daniel Lacroix and Philippe Walter, Lettres Gothiques (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1989). Secondary Reading: Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York and London: Routledge, 1990) E. Jane Burns, Bodytalk: When Women Speak in Old French Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993). Chapter 1: ¿A Close Look at Female Orifices in Farce and Fabliau¿. Caroline Walker Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone Books, 1992) -- Metamorphosis and Identity (New York: Zone Books, 2001) Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Of Giants: Sex, Monsters, and the Middle Ages (University of Minnesota Press, 1999) -- Medieval Identity Machines (University of Minnesota Press, 2003) Leslie Dunton-Downer, ¿Wolf Man¿, in Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Bonnie Wheeler (eds), Becoming Male in the Middle Ages (New York and London: Garland, 1997), pp. 203-18. Michel Feher, Ramona Naddaff, and Nadia Tazi (eds), Fragments for a history of the human body, 3 vols. (New York: Zone Books, 1989) (Selected chapters). Simon Gaunt, Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (CUP, 1995). Chapters 4: ¿Saints, sex and community: hagiography¿, and 5: ¿Genitals, gender and mobility: the fabliaux¿. Sylvia Huot, Madness in Medieval French Literature: Identities Found and Lost (OUP, 2003) Luce Irigaray, Speculum de l¿autre femme (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1974) Sarah Kay and Miri Rubin, Framing Medieval Bodies (Manchester University Press, 1996) Julia Kristeva, Pouvoirs de l'horreur : essai sur l'abjection (Paris : Seuil, 1983) Linda Lomperis and Sarah Stanbury (eds), Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature (Philadelphia, 1993)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness. For further specification of these skills see the university's graduate and employability skills framework at
KeywordsMedieval,French literature,Bodies,Metamorphosis
Course organiserDr Fionnuala Sinclair
Tel: (0131 6)50 8423
Course secretaryMrs Lina Gordyshevskaya
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