English 665A—Mixed Races: Theory and Literature

Spring 2002; Prof. Charles Ross


Handouts may be obtained through your Career Account; click on English 665A or FLL 630A


Modified Syllabus:


Week 1

January 8

Introduction; Eric Rohmer’s film Perceval, based on the story by Chrétien de Troyes


January 10

Perceval cont.


January 15

Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, or Le conte du graal; and Lancelot, or Le chevalier de la charette.


January 17

Iceberg Slim, Trick Baby (if you can handle it); Propp, Levi-Strauss, Adorno on narrative theory


January 22

Marie de France: Lay of Lanval


January 24

Chaucer, Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale


January 29

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,  parts 1-2


January 31

Parts 3-4


February 5

Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato 1.1-7;


February 7

OI 8-14


February 12

OI 15-21


February 14

­OI 22-29


February 19

OI 2.1-2.6 esp. canto 4


February 21

OI  2.7-16 esp. canto 8


February 26

OI 2.17-end  (especially 3.5 and 3.9)


February 28

Virgil Aeneid 1-3


March 5

Aeneid 4-6


March 7

Aeneid  7-9


March 12



March 14



March 19

Aeneid 10-12


March 21

The Curse of Cain;


March 26

The Curse of Cain


March 28

OT passages


April 2

Ariosto, Orlando Furioso 1-7


April 4

OF 8-22


April 9

Spenser’s Faerie Queene FQ 3.1-6


April 11

FQ 3.7-12


April 16

Tasso Jerusalem Delivered


April 18



April 23



April 25



*I am going to presume every has read Genesis and a good chunk of Judges and 1, 2 Samuel (the David stories) as background for "The Curse of Cain." We don't have time to go over all of this, but after we touch on the shield of Achilles, let's take questions on essential scenes: the creation (Gen 1), the double creation of man (Gen 2-3), Cain and Abel (Gen 4), Noah's sons (Gen 9:20-29); the sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22), Jacob and Esau (Gen 25:24-34 and Gen 25), and a tiny bit of the Joseph story (Gen 37:1-11). Why do you think RS does not talk much about the sacrifice of Isaac or Joseph? Consider also two versions of the 10 commandements (for which see Exodus 19:16 - Ex 20: 26 , Ex 24, and Ex 31 and Deuteronomy 5) the golden calf story (Ex 32). I would also suggest Judges 5, the Song of Deborah, with the same question: Why does RS ignore it? I plan to play the Lawrence Olivier version of this on Tuesday. On the problem of whether Israel was actually a mixed race, the key is the brief Book of Ruth, which stands by itself between Judges and the 1 Samuel (which ends with the death of Saul, whom David had to replace, and his son Jonathan, whom David loved). For Bathsheba and the rape of Tamar, read 2 Samuel 11, 12, and 13. That's the OT according to Charlie.


For the rest of the seminar I would like to see you reading Ariosto, Tasso, and FQ 3. Following the cantos I highlighted before break, and considering what (rightly or wrongly) I see as your interests, I see Tara leading us on OF 1 (the flight of Angelica) and FQ 3.1.1-19, the flight of Florimell, on Thursday. Erika will go on Tuesday April 2 taking on FQ 3.1.20 - 67 and OF 32 (the custom of the castle motif; that will prepare both of you for the MA exam). Then we will go backwards, as Russell leads us on Orlando Furioso 5 (the harsh laws of Scotland) and 23, stanzas 95-136 (the madness of Orlando).  On Thursday April 4, Mica will please lead us through Ruggiero's allegory of growing up in canto 10. That brings us to Tuesday April 9, when we will do what we can with Tasso. For that day we will discuss David Quint's chapter "Political Allegory in the Gerusalemme Liberata" from Epic and Empire, pp. 213-247, which I will post on the website (the part on why Clorinda is an Ethiopian wraps up the mixed race part of the seminar). Then Thursday April 11, Michelle will present on Erminia, whose story runs through the poem and ends at canto 19; and on Tuesday April 16, Vicki will review Tasso’s poetic theory of customs and expected behavior, how a poet creates verisimilitude from ritual elements. There will be no further assigned reading, just thinking.