Posted: March 29th, 2015
HST 205B Spring 2015
Paper instructions Tabuteau
Assignment: Write a paper on one (1) of these three books:
Guibert of Nogent, Monodies, translated by Joseph McAlhany and Jay Rubenstein (Penguin Books, 2011)
Galbert of Bruges, The Murder, Betrayal, and Slaughter of the Glorious Charles, Count of Flanders, translated by Jeff Rider (Yale University Press, 2013)
Peter Abelard and Heloise, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, translated by Betty Radice, revised by M. T. Clanchy (Penguin Books, 2003; original edition 1974)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Each of these works has been translated more than once. You MUST use the translation specified above so be sure to acquire the right one.
Detail of the assignment: Each of these books presents the personal reflections of someone (in the case of Abelard and Heloise, two persons) who lived and wrote in the first half of the twelfth century. They are among the first works of personal reflection in the modern western tradition.
Your assignment is to read one of these books, identify in it three (3) themes that have been prominent in this course, and discuss how the source you have chosen casts light on the themes you have identified. Sample themes are: the organization of upper-class society, the lives of peasants, the new piety (how to be a good Christian), development of the cult of the Virgin, church reform, the revival of thought, the growth of schools, the rise of towns, opportunities open to and constraints on women, opportunities open to and constraints on men, attitudes towards the Jews. Note four things. First, this list is by no means exhaustive. It is perfectly fine for you to identify and discuss one or more themes which I have not listed. Second, not all themes will be found in each of the three works. Third, if you have any question about whether it would sensible for you to address a particular theme on the basis of a particular work, by all means come talk to me. Fourth, do not choose as one of your themes the psychology of the author(s): the temptation to analyze the relationship between Abelard and Heloise or that between Guibert and his mother is great, but the effort is profitless.
You will need to read the book at least twice: once (probably quickly) to settle on the themes you plan to discuss, and again to work out in detail what the book tells us about those topics. One way to think about the latter task is to ask yourself this: if this were the only source we had from the twelfth century about this subject, what would we know about it? Another way to conceptualize it is to ask yourself this: in what ways does my reading of this source amplify or modify what I have learned about this topic from reading Bennett and Geary and from the lectures in the course?
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