[Cross-listed with Italian 404 and Romance Studies 420C]

Romance Ecologies: Narcissism, The Waste Land and Feminine Wild Wisdom

This course aims at reflecting on the ways in which intuitive wisdom and linear thinking played out on the Medieval Romance scene, while improving our understanding of Medieval worldviews pertaining to the interaction between human societies and the ecosystems in which they were operating. In our readings of Medieval and Early Renaissance texts — whether chivalric narratives, love poems, philosophical treatises — and images we will also probe the extent to which, and the possible reasons why, intuitive wisdom consistently seems to bear the mark of the feminine, as a yearning for wholeness that typically, and paradoxically, exceeds institutionalized forms of knowledge and spirituality. We will carry out this investigation by keeping in mind today’s ecological concerns and the way in which current ecological thinking may be enriched and enlivened by the contribution of Ancient, Medieval and Early Renaissance worldviews.

We will discuss:

  • The Romance of the Rose (excerpts); Tristan and Isolde; The Grail Legend (excerpts);
  • Lady Philosophy and other feminine wisdom figures from Antiquity to the Middle Ages;
  • St Francis and his Canticle; the feminine in troubadour poetry and the stilnuovo; Dante Alighieri’s feminine figures;
  • Botticelli’s mythological paintings; Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and other paintings.

Required Texts
All texts for this course will be made available through Canvas and/or UBC library.

Students who plan to minor in Italian must take this course as ITAL and will be expected to do part of their reading and assignments in the Italian language.

Language of instruction: English

Course Registration