WORLD LITERATURE I (ENG 251)

Activities for Love, Courtly and Otherwise

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI


Please read through all of these Activities before making your selection. Make a copy of the Activity question to begin your response. Post your response to the Activity 8: Courtly Love Forum in Blackboard.

The chili peppers indicate the degree of difficulty of each Activity. One chili pepper is pretty easy. Two chili peppers are more difficult. Three chili peppers indicate a challenging Activity. However, your grade does not depend on the number of chili peppers, but on how well you deal with the Activity you select.

one chili peppersLanval is one of the more courtly stories in the textbook. Lanval starts out as a noble, but impoverished knight, and his love for a superior, magical lady greatly improves him. Go through some of the rules at the The Art of Courtly Love and show how they apply to Lanval.
one chili peppersRead the Courtly Love Study Guide and the selections from The Art of Courtly Love. Focus on the "rules" at the end. Do you think people actually lived by these rules or do you think they were part of an elaborate court game? Can you find any similar rules nowadays? Write your own list of modern rules of love. How are your rules similar to those in The Art of Courtly Love? How are they different? What does that tell you about how people have or have not changed in the past 800 years?
one chili peppersRead Andrew the Chaplain's list of the rules of courtly love in The Art of Courtly Love.  Then, write your own "modern" rules for the game of love.  After you have done so, compare them to Andrews's list and comment on how they are the same, and how different, and why.  Be thoughtful here--we are living in a very different world.  Be sure to support your comments with specific examples.
one chili peppersGo to the database of Medieval Movies. See if you can locate a film in your area that deals with the matter of Courtly Love. Watch the film and write a critical review, indicating what you think was genuinely "medieval" about it and what you think was simply film fakery.
one chili peppersFirst read the introduction to The Story of Ying Ying, which suggests that both lovers are unpleasant, deceitful people. After reading The Story of Ying Ying, decide whether or not you agree. Why or why not? Support your ideas with plenty of specific examples from the text.
Select two or three medieval lyrics that deal with the pains and desires of love for an unattainable lover. Cite the lyrics by author and title. Then, discuss themes they have in common and support your ideas using specific examples from the lyrics.  Do you think there are any significant differences between these lyric views of unattainable love and modern attitudes? Be specific in your response and develop your ideas.
one chili peppersA common theme of courtly love is the ennobling of the lover by love. Select two or three lyrics that deal with the relationship between love and a noble or gentle heart. Cite these lyrics by author and title, and then discuss the way they present the ideal lover and the impact of love on him/her. Can you think of any modern parallels? Be specific in your response and develop your ideas.
one chili peppersSome of the lyrics are clearly about sexual love, not marriage. Select two or three of these, cite the lyrics by author and title, and then discuss the way they present the pursuit and satisfactions of love, using specific examples from the lyrics. Do you think there are any significant differences between these lyric views of love and modern ones? Be specific in your response and develop your ideas.
two chili peppersCompare attitudes towards sex outside of marriage in the story of Brother Alberto (or Friar Albert) (it is the second story of the fourth day at the Decameron web site, but not in our textbooks) in the Decameron and The Story of Ying Ying. Do you see any interesting similarities? Any interesting differences? And so what? Support your ideas with plenty of specific examples from both stories.
two chili peppersConsider the roles of the woman in Marie de France's Laustic and Boccaccio's Tenth Story of the Tenth Day, otherwise known as Patient Griselda. Can you reconcile these subjugated women with the myth of courtly love? How? Give specific examples from both stories and from the rules in The Art of Courtly Love.
two chili peppersSelect two or three medieval lyrics that deal with the pains and desires of love for an unattainable lover. Cite the lyrics by author and title. Then, discuss themes they have in common and support your ideas using specific examples from the lyrics.  Do you think there are any significant differences between these lyric views of unattainable love and modern attitudes? Be specific in your response and develop your ideas.
two chili peppersLook closely at the mixture of religious and earthly love imagery in Petrarch's poems (Petrarch is in Volume C; all the rest of the readings here are in Volume B; you can search the Internet if you want to find Petrarch's poems online). Compare this to the descriptions of love you have read in one or more other texts during this course, such as the love of Odysseus for Penelope, or the love of Enkidu for the prostitute, or the love of Dido for Aeneas, or the love of Medea for Jason.  Can you find any similarities?  What, exactly, are the big differences?  Support your answer with specific examples from both texts.
two chili peppersThe Queen in Lanval falsely accuses Lanval of having made improper advances to her, because she is angry that he refused her improper advances. He is put on trial and is only saved by the arrival of his lady. This story has an ancient analog in the story of Joseph in the Hebrew Bible. When Joseph is in Egypt, Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph and he rejects her. She then falsely accuses him of making improper advances to her and he is actually thrown in prison. Compare these two stories and see if you can find any interesting similarities and/or differences. Be sure to support your ideas with specific examples from both stories.
two chili peppersWrite a poem about a hopeless love for a superior and unresponsive beloved.  Use Petrarch's basic ideas and images and adapt them to modern circumstances.  If you do this one, put some real work and thought into it; otherwise stick with a more objective question.
two chili peppersCompare the representation of women in Marie de France's stories, Lanval and Laustic, to that of women in any one or two tales from the Nights.  What are the interesting similarities?  What are the significant differences?  Support your answer with specific examples from all three texts.

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© Diane Thompson: 8/13/1998; last updated: August 19, 2015