Fall 2006

HUMS 656
Chivalric Romances and Renaissance Readership: Amadis of Gaul and Orlando furioso


09/11/2006 - 12/16/2006
Wednesday -

We will read and discuss Amadis of Gaul and Orlando furioso in relation to the growing and changing influence of the chivalric tradition on both the Spanish and Italian literatures of the 16th Century. We will explore the main features of both works alongside the innovations they introduced to the genre. We will also trace their fortunes in both literatures in light of the most important historical and cultural events of the time, including the commercialization of literary products and the birth of the culture industry.

The Spanish and Italian chivalric traditions will constitute the background against which we will investigate the impact of both Montalvo's and Ariosto's works on 16th Century readership. We will also touch upon their influence on later authors, such as Tasso and Cervantes. Finally, discussions will focus on book trade, historiography, and literary criticism. While discovering a challenging topic, students will acquire a broader perspective on 16th Century Italian and Spanish literatures, different from (but complementary to) that provided by conventional surveys.

As a result of this study, students should gain an awareness that reading, writing, and circulating literary texts are dynamic processes involving several factors. We will learn how to use tools for reading and analyzing literary texts in regard to the environments that produced and received them, and come to appreciate the importance of developing an analytical method of reading, fostering interpretative strategies, and refining a critical vocabulary.

Our primary texts are: Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando furioso (The frenzy of Orlando). 1516-32, translated with an introduction by Barbara Reynolds. 2 Vols. London: Penguin, 1975-77; and Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, Amadis of Gaul. 1508, translated by Herbert Behm and Edwin Place. 2 Vols. Lexington: Kentucky UP, 1974 (Reimp. 2003).

Students are required to write a 6--8 page paper on a general topic related to the history and the reception of the Italian and Spanish chivalric traditions throughout Europe in the Early Modern period. A first draft of the papers will be the subject of a class discussion. As a final project, students will expand their paper. The final form of the paper should reflect further thinking about the topic following the discussion of the first draft. Research for the final project should focus on the text of either Amadis of Gaul or Orlando furioso.

Class attendance and preparation are mandatory. It is the students' responsibility to study the assigned material even in the case of an absence. Two absences entail the loss of a half grade. On the third absence the student may be encouraged to withdraw from the course.

Students may want to read the following chapters in advance of the first class meeting: J. Huizinga. The Waining of the Middle Ages (Chapters 3-7) and R. Barber, The Knight and Chivalry (Chapters 4-5).

Francesco Fiumara (B.A. Universita degli studi di Messina, Italy; Suficiencia investidadora Universidad de Salamanca, Spain; Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University expected Summer 2006 is visiting instructor in Romance languages and literatures. His research and teaching interests focus on the relationship between the literature of Italy and Spain in the Renaissance period, the relationship between literature and the visual arts, and the history of the book.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Ludovico Ariosto, ORLANDO FURIOSO: PART 1 (Penguin), Paperback

Ludovico Ariosto, ORLANDO FURIOSO: PART 2 (Penguin), Paperback

Garci Rodriguez De Montalvo, AMADIS OF GAUL: BOOKS 1 & 2 (University Press of Kentucky), Paperback

Garci Rodriguez De Montalvo, AMADIS OF GAUL: BOOKS 3 & 4 (University Press of Kentucky), Paperback


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