This course examines the concept of chivalry as a social and literary phenomenon from its inception through the medieval and early modern period and into its more modern manifestations. We will explore the changes in what constitutes a knight as the militaristic facets of the title are separated from the social and political distinction the name implies. We will also discuss the role of the lady, in relation to the knight and as an independent figure, including female warriors. Finally, we will look at the decline of knighthood as feudalism gives way to a moneyed, commercial society. Looking toward our modern times, we will ask the inevitable question: is chivalry dead? Readings from the Iberian Peninsula such as El Cantar de mio Cid, Ramon Llull’s Book of the Order of Chivalry, Joanot Martorell’s Tirant lo Blanch, and Cervantes’s Don Quixote will be considered alongside works by the likes of Geoffroi de Charny, Christine de Pizan, Torquato Tasso, and more contemporary authors including Mark Twain and Michael Chabon. The course also will include a visit to the Arms and Armor Department of The Met. Open to Sophomores and higher.

Varies in content from term to term, focusing on special themes. Recent offerings include Tolkien and Lewis: The Medievalist's Answer to Modernism; Religion and Identity in Medieval Europe; The Kiss; Gothic Romance; Music and Cosmology; Poets, Patrons, and Public in Medieval Lyric; Gender Issues in the Art of the Middle Ages; Myths and Legends of the Middle Ages; Doomsday: The Last Judgment in Medieval Culture; Medieval Minstrels; Angels; Sexual Transgression in the Middle Ages and Renaissance; Saints: Lore and Legend; The Troubadours: Lyrics, Love, and War; Early Irish Art; The Middle Ages at the Movies; and The Medieval Book (held at the Pierpont Morgan Library).

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Fall 2017

Matthew S Tanico
TR: 12:30 PM - 1:45 PM 19UP 405