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Updated on January 18, 2015

E 891DL: Medieval Latin Authors in Translation



This syllabus is subject to change. The latest version on this website is the binding syllabus.

Office: Bartlett 259
Office Hours: Wed and by appointment.
545-6598 | sharris at

Wednesdays 4:00pm-6:30pm: Bartlett 209
Click here for scheule

COURSE: English literature developed out of a long participation in a global intellectual enterprise. Medieval Latin Authors formed the basis and extent of that enterprise. We will read the major Christian authors, including Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, Isidore of Seville, the Venerable Bede, Prudentius, Arator, Alcuin, Columbanus, Aldhelm, and Avitus, among others. These authors represent the height of literary culture in Africa, the Middle East, Spain, Gaul, Ireland, England, and wider Germania. Our readings will comprise poetry, prose, Scripture, biblical commentary, and sermons, as well as historical and philosophical texts. Our aim is to achieve a wide knowledge of medieval Latin literature. The readings are in English translation, although a working knowledge of Latin is extremely useful.

BOOKS: We will be using:

1. Ernst Robert Curtius. European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. (Bollingen, 1991) ISBN: 0691018995 [Free e-book via UMass]

2. F.E.J. Raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry. (Sandpiper Books reprint. Oxford, 1927.) ISBN 0198143249

3. Saint Augustine, Confessions. Ed., Henry Chadwick (Oxford University Press; 1998) ISBN: 0192833723 [Older, free version via UMass]

4. Prudentius, Prudentius (Harvard UP, 1955) ISBN: 0674994264 [Older, free version via UMass]

5. Townsend, ed. Saints' Lives, Henry of Avranches, Vol. 2. Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard UP, 2014) ISBN 9780674728653

6. Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, trans., Joel C. Relihan. (Hackett Publishing Company, 2001) ISBN: 0872205835 [Free e-book via UMass]

7. The Poems of Alcimus Ecdicius, trans. George W. Shea. Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, vol. 172 (June, 1997) ISBN: 0866982140. Buy online, please.

8. Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Poetria Nova, trans. Margaret F. Nims. (Pontifical Institute, 2010) ISBN: 0888442998

9. Peter Walsh, ed. One Hundred Latin Hymns. Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard UP, 2014) ISBN 0674057732

10. C.J. McDonough, ed. The Arundel Lyrics: the Poems of Hugh Primus. Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard UP, 2014) ISBN 0674055578.

All will be available at Amherst Books at 8 Main St. Recommended readings will be on reserve at Du Bois.

Course Links

  • DuCange
  • Orbis Latinus
  • Dactylic Hexameter
  • Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum
  • Med. Lat. on the Internet
  • Bibliographies:


    Manuscripts: Libraries:

    STRUCTURE AND OBJECTIVES: The twin objectives of this course are to have you read lots of medieval Latin literature, and to learn how to research it.

    ASSIGNMENTS: There are three (3) assignments:

    • Bibliography. Choose a poem or poet from Raby. Then, list standard editions, and primary and secondary literature.
    • Figura. Choose a poem. Describe a figura in the poem, and trace its history.
    • Final paper. A topic of your choosing, relevant to the material discussed in class.

    GRADING: The breakdown of your class grade is as follows:

    • bibliography 10%
    • participation 10%
    • figura 20%
    • final report 60%

    CONFERENCES: I encourage you to meet with me at least once during the semester. Please let me know beforehand if you want to meet during my office hours. Otherwise, please make an appointment to meet with me at a time convenient to you and I will try to oblige.

    NOTE 1: Please make and keep a copy of all your assignments. That copy may be a disc copy. You do not want to risk your work to the caprices of an indifferent fate. Also, in case any difficulties arise with respect to misplaced assignments or with respect to discrepancies between your records and my own, I will accept the evidence of your computer system's dating function. For your own peace of mind, I suggest that you lock any document on the day it is due. That will prevent your computer's operating system from associating your document with a later date.

    NOTE 2: The course schedule is subject to change. It is not to be construed as a substitute for your attendance or as a catalogue of all the information for which you are responsible. All changes will be announced with a reasonable lead time. This syllabus constitutes a binding contract. If you do not agree with any of the provisions set herein or if you foresee disagreeing with any of the provisions which may reasonably be added during the course of the term, then you are free to drop this class within the time allotted by the university.

    NOTE 3:All material pertaining to this course--namely handouts, quizzes, exams, tests, maps, graphs, charts, printed matter, recorded matter, electronic matter including but not limited to this syllabus and associated electronic documents, films, images and video clips--is copyrighted material and is subject to international and US laws of copyright.