Public and Private Performances of Self in Medieval Literature and Drama

Course Outline:

At a time when life was viewed as a constant struggle between good and evil within the human soul, how was the inner self conceived? Furthermore, when public life was a type of performance in itself, how did people publicly enact their identities? With an emphasis on close critical readings, this course aims to explore medieval identities by looking at manifestations of self in literature and drama; it will examine and challenge distinctions between public and private, questioning the concept of subjectivity in this period, and focus particularly on moments of personal crisis. As well as considering the role of performance in everyday life and organised drama, you will study the creation of narrative voices and personas in literary texts, and interrogate the interrelationship of text, ‘voice’ and performance. The course also contains a workshop element to develop close reading skills and introduce students to digital humanities study tools for the medieval period.