CourseEng 181.005, Fall 2015
TitleMedieval Heroes and Monsters
Time/PlaceT/R 1:00-2:15pm, Callaway N204
InstructorMs. Jenny Bledsoe
Office hoursTuesdays 2:30-4:30pm in Peet's Coffee (basement of Woodruff Library) and by appointment

Course description

“The monster’s body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy …, giving them life and an uncanny independence. The monstrous body is pure culture. A construct and a projection, the monster exists only to be read: the monstrum is etymologically ‘that which reveals,’ ‘that which warns.’” – Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

The lives of the saints should “prouffyte to all them that shal rede or here to redde, [and] … may encrease in them vertue and expelle vyce and synne that by the ensaumple of the holy sayntes amende theyr lyvyng here in thys shorte lyf,” and these texts should also “incyte and exhorte men and wymmen to kepe them from louthe and ydlenesse.” – William Caxton (c. 1415-1492)

In this course, students will develop critical reading, analytical writing, and rhetorical presentation skills while exploring the way that exemplarity and monstrosity are constructed in medieval literature and art. Reading assignments include The Voyage of St Brendan, John Mandeville’s Travels, The Hammer of Witches, medieval saints’ lives, romances, sermons, chronicles, and visual narratives of monsters and heroes in manuscripts, stained glass, and wall paintings. All texts in the course engage with the question of exemplarity broadly, including the rhetorical strategies authors use to construct heroes and the ideological motivations for labeling certain figures as monstrous. Reading and writing assignments will engage with the visual as a form of “text” or argument, and students will compose in multiple modes, including traditional written essays, oral presentations, and a final multimodal research project.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this course you will be able to

  • Compose texts in multiple genres, using multiple modes with attention to rhetorical situations. You will learn how audience, purpose, genre, and content shape the meaning and effectiveness of all writing.
  • Summarize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the ideas of others as you undertake scholarly inquiry in order to produce your own arguments.
  • Practice writing as a process, recursively implementing strategies of research, drafting, revision, editing, and reflection.
  • Employ academic writing conventions, including organization, development, style, incorporation of materials from sources, grammar, format, and documentation.
  • Utilize electronic environments for drafting, reviewing, revising, editing, and sharing texts. You will also be able to locate, evaluate, organize, and use research material collected from electronic sources. Additionally, you will understand and exploit the differences in the rhetorical strategies and in the affordances available for both print and electronic composing processes and texts.

Course texts
You are required to purchase the following books:

  • Lunsford, Andrea A. and John J. Ruszkiewicz. Everything’s an Argument. 6 ed. Boston; New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print. ISBN: 9781457606069.
  • Schilb, John and John Clifford. Arguing about Literature: A Brief Guide. Boston; New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. Print. ISBN: 9781457664830.
  • Domain registration ($12) through Emory (more details in Policies and in the PDF of the syllabus above).

Additional readings will be provided through Course Reserves or through free online sources for readings not in copyright. To access the Course Reserves, visit To find links to online readings, visit our course website at You are required to bring a paper copy or easily referenced electronic copy of the text to class on the day it will be discussed.

Domain of One’s Own

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