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Unit 2 Medieval Period

We need to know

Historical background about the Medieval period

How to recognize and understand legends

How to analyze folk ballads

How to read Middle English aloud

How to understand characterization and make inferences about character

How to write a pilgrim’s tale

How to understand mock-heroic style in literature

How to understand an exemplum

How to understand and discuss a morality play

How to interpret names as symbols

How to recognize and understand the plot and themes of literature from this unit

Key Terms

legend, ballad, folk ballad, characterization, medieval romance, mock-heroic poetry, exemplum, medieval romance, morality play

The Literature

excerpt from Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur

excerpt from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

"Sir Patrick Spens"

"Get Up and Bar the Door"

"The Twa Corbies"

"Barbara Allan"

"Painters" by Jewel

"The End of the Innocence" by Don Henley

"Cold Feet" by Tracy Chapman

excerpt from Everyman

Journal Questions

  1. Define each of the key terms listed above.
  2. Describe the historical context of the medieval period.
  3. How would you characterize Arthur? Discuss what qualities he possessed that would have been admirable during medieval times. How would you characterize Mordred? Discuss what qualities he possessed that would be considered undesirable.
  4. The literature of the past sometimes presents ideas, values, or customs that would be useful to life today. Explain how one such medieval idea, value, or custom would enhance present-day life.
  5. What modern occupation do you think comes closest to matching the duties and ideals of the Knights of the Round Table? Explain your answer.
  6. Most popular music has a brief life span. Sons from a few years ago tend to sound dated today. Yet folk ballads have been sung for centuries and in some places are still performed today. Why? What is it that can make a song so enduring? Write about the qualities that you think make a song become a long-lasting popular classic. What "modern" songs do you consider to be classics and why?
  7. Choose one of Chaucer’s pilgrims and study his or her character sketch. When you are sure you understand the pilgrim’s character, write a short tale that he or she might tell. You may modernize the tale and set it in the present, but make sure the tale fits the character of the pilgrim.
  8. Think about the many little things you do every day: brushing your teeth, tying your shoelaces, opening a box of cereal. Use the mock-heroic style to describe a trivial chore or activity that is part of your daily routine. Remember to stress the contrast between style and subject matter in order to heighten the humor.
  9. How do you account for the fact that stage productions of Everyman have continued to be successful up to the present day? Consider what qualities you can name that are shared by every human being.
  10. Imagine you are a medieval man or woman who has witnessed any episode presented in the selections of this unit. Write a letter to a friend or relative in which you tell what you witnessed.

Unit Projects

  1. Chivalry Project – see handout – 50 points
  2. Arthurian skit – see handout - 75 points
  3. Prologue Memorization – 25 points
  4. Vocabulary quiz – 30 points
  5. Unit test - 100 points



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