English 110ff. Medieval Fanfiction

Instructor: Anna Wilson
Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

Fanfiction is a surprisingly powerful tool for examining medieval literature. It sheds light on the dynamics of rereading and transformation that characterizes medieval literary culture, which in turn deepen our own understanding of the nature of creativity. In this class we will read some twentieth- and twenty-first century retellings of medieval stories, including fanfiction, alongside medieval literary texts that rewrite, reimagine, or let their authors star in pre-existing stories. This medieval fanfiction will include different takes on the medieval superhero Sir Gawain (including the 2020 movie starring Dev Patel), unauthorized additions to The Canterbury Tales, and medieval Christian devotional manuals which encourage their readership to participate in imaginative exercises where they imagine themselves as participating in events in the life of Jesus Christ. Along the way we will learn what medieval readers and writers thought of questions like, what is an author? What is literature? What is a character? And what happens in our brains when we read? 

This course satisfies the “Pre-1700 Guided Elective" requirement for English concentrators and Secondary Field students.