E 891 dl: Medieval Latin Authors



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 english.umass.edu

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W 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

WEEK 3: Augustine
4 February

In this class, we will consider the genre of autobiography, questions of authenticity, personal versus formal, expression and imitation.

One related issue is the nature of Augustine's conversion. Is its description (and its unfolding) structured by the formal properties of the genre? How do hymns and prayers control the language of his supplication?

Consider also the rhetorical devices Augustine employs, the topics he addresses, and the vita he presents. How do these relate to the vitae of saints (esp. Athansius), to Josephus, to Plutarch, to Suetonius, and to others?

Finally, what is Augustine claiming about the roles of the human faculties in perceiving truth? Which faculties read?

Following on our first class and our discussion of images, figures, and language, please try to develop a text-centered line of approach to the Confessions—concerning reading, signs, language, truth.

: Pierre Courcelle, Recherches sur les confessions de S Augustin (Paris, 1950).



1) Augustine, Confessions.

2) Curtius, ch. 4, "Rhetoric," and ch. 5, "Topics," pp. 62-105. (Here is Donatus.)

3) Curtius, chapter 15 "Mannerism," pp. 273-301.

4) If you like, Eugene Vance on Aug & autobiography; Dennis Trout on Augustine's otium honestum.

5) Augustine biography; browse Augustine's works.