medieval

Celtic Myth in Children’s Fantasy (Spring 2014)
$95.00

The medieval literature of Ireland and Wales is thought to have saved for posterity the vestiges of what would have been ancient ‘Celtic’ mythology. Tales of heroes, otherworld voyages, transformation and magic have fascinated folklorists and antiquarians since the rediscovery of Celtic texts in the 19th century, and have inspired writers of fantasy literature from Victorian times to today.

This course will examine contemporary (post-World-War-II) fantasy works whose authors have adapted, revised and re-imagined the medieval mythological texts of Ireland and Wales. The course material is divided into two parts:

  1. we will first read and discuss selections from the original sources (Táin Bó CúailngeMabinogion, etc.)
  2. we will then go on to explore the way modern fantasy authors have rewritten this material to address a child or young adult readership.

The course, therefore, serves as a mini-introduction to Celtic mythology, while the focus on children’s and young adult fantasy will allow us to discuss matters of power and ideology, as well as perceptions of Celtic identity in contemporary fiction. The fantasy works we will explore include some of the best, award-winning fantasy of the later 20th century, such as Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967, Carnegie Medal), Susan Cooper’s The Grey King (1976, Newbery Medal); and Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider (1986, Tir na n-Og Award).

Taught By

Visiting Professor Dimitra Fimi

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Course Schedule

Celtic Myth in Children's Fantasy (Spring 2014)

Book List

Ancient Irish Tales translated by Tom Peete Cross and Clark Harris Slover
Early Irish Myths and Sagas by Jeffrey Gantz
The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davies
Lebar Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions of Ireland) translated by R. A. S. Macalister * (§48-54: Fir Bolgs, §55-64: Tuatha De Dannan and §65-95: The Milesians)
Cath Maige Tuired Cunga (The First Battle of Magh Turedh) translated by J. Fraser *
Cath Maige Tuired (The Second Battle of Moytura) translated by Whitley Stokes *
Tochmarc Étaíne (The Wooing of Etain) translated by A.H. Leahy *
Aislinge Óenguso (The Dream of Oengus) translated by Ed. Müller *
Noínden Ulad (The Debility of the Ulstermen) translated by T.P. Cross and C.H. Slover *
Compert Con Culainn (The Birth of Cú Chulainn) translated by T.P. Cross and C.H. Slover *
Macgnimrada Con Culaind (The Boyhood Deeds of Cú Chulainn) translated by T.P. Cross and C.H. Slover *
Táin Bó Regamain (The Cattle-Raid of Regamon) translated by A.H. Leahy *
Táin Bó Regamna (The Cattle-Raid of Regamna) translated by A.H. Leahy *
Táin Bó Cúalnge (The Cattle-Raid of Cooley) translated by Joseph Dunn *
- The Pillow-Talk 
- The Healing of Morrigan
- The Appearance of Cuchulain

Fotha Catha Chnucha (The Cause of the Battle of Cnucha) translated by T.P. Cross and C.H. Slover *
Macgnímartha Finn (The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn) translated by T.P. Cross and C.H. Slover *
Oisin’s Mother by Lady Augusta Gregory *
Oisin in the Land of Youth by T.W. Rolleston *
The Mabinogion translated by G. and T. Jones * (especially ’The Four Branches of the Mabinogi’ and ‘The Native Tales’)
Pa gur yv y porthaur? (What  man is the porter?) translated by W.F. Skene *
Preiddeu Annwn (The Spoils of Annwn) translated by Sarah Higley *
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea
The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
The Wizard Children of Finn by Mary Tannen
The Lost Legend of Finn by Mary Tannen
The Owl Service by Alan Garner
The Snow Spider Trilogy by Jenny Nimmo
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

Price: $95.00
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Tolkien and Tradition (Fall 2013)
$95.00

Tolkien once said his immediate response to reading any medieval story was to want to write one like it.  He did.  Three times. “The Story of Kullervo” came from the Finnish KalevalaSigurd and Gudrún was his take on the Icelandic Eddas, and The Fall of Arthur was inspired by the Middle English Alliterative Morte Arthure and the Stanzaic Morte Arthure.  We’ll read each of these works in the context of its particular literary tradition to explore how Tolkien fits/alters/extends/compresses traditional material to make it his own.

The course divides naturally into three segments each devoted to a mythic story and Tolkien’s treatment of it.  Each of the first two sections will be followed by an exam on that section.  The last week’s classes will be a summing up in open discussion/evaluation/critique of Tolkien’s use of his material.  I will provide some talking points to get us started, but this is your opportunity to try out your opinions about what you’ve learned.   It is, if you like, a rehearsal for the cumulative final exam on Friday of the last week in which you will be asked to evaluate Tolkien’s works both individually and comparatively, judging them in the context of each other as well as of their sources as read in class.

Taught By

Professor Verlyn Flieger

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Course Schedule

Tolkien and Tradition (Fall 2013)

Book List

Edda by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Faulkes
The Poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems by Henry Adams Bellows
The Poetic Edda: Heroic Poems by Henry Adams Bellows
King Arthur’s Death by Larry Dean Benson and Edward Foster
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien

Price: $95.00
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