L10101: Ancient & Medieval lITERATURE



Dr. M. L. Stapleton

ENGL 10101: Ancient and Medieval World Literature

Fall 2019   Online

Office:  LA 233  Hours: please contact me

email: stapletm@pfw.edu   phone: 481.6841 (message)

webpage: www.elmlsteach.org


Bible, any translation

Puchner, et al., eds., The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Shorter 4th edition, vol. 1 (ISBN  978-0393602876)

Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart (.pdf in link below)


1. Because our medium disallows traditional interaction in a classroom setting, we'll have to be particularly diligent in doing our work online and staying connected. This means that we'll be writing about everything we read and turning something in every two weeks or so. You're more than welcome to meet with me in my office to discuss the texts and writing assignments.  

2. The best way to contact me is through email. Since I'll be alerting you about everything this way,  IT'S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT YOU A) CHECK YOUR PFW ACCOUNT FREQUENTLY, AND B) ALWAYS RESPOND TO MY MESSAGES SO I CAN MAKE SURE YOU HAVE RECEIVED THEM. You should also make sure that YOU hear back from ME. 

3. The boxes below represent our syllabus. Each contains the duration of a given unit, organized by the Monday date of the week;  the text we'll be studying in said unit; and eventually, the writing assignment that will comprise our interaction, along with the due date.  Also, I'll be posting the equivalent of a lecture on the work on my blog, shakespeareinyourface.blogspot.com, for which I'll provide a link in the box and an email alert.   I'd suggest you give these a look. It also wouldn't hurt to check out the introductions in the Puchner anthology.

So, for example, during the week of 7 October, we'll be reading Sophocles's Oedipus, which begins on page 400 in your anthology. Sometime prior to that Monday, the prompt for the writing assignment will appear. I'll post something about the play on the blog, with a link in the box and an email alert.  And you'll turn in your short essay by Friday, 11 October, by 9 a.m., via email. Usually, I will have these turned around and back to you in a few days. 

4. Although our writing need not be overly formal, it should avoid the personal. It should not concern itself  with how you feel or what you believe, or discuss your opinion of the work's merit, usefulness, or whether you think it's interesting or worthwhile. The first person is fine in moderation. Please avoid using the second person ("you").

The writing should be analytical and argumentative. The essays should be 2 pp. or so, answer the question or respond to the assertion, focus on useful detail, cite the text as evidence (page numbers in parentheses).  You don't need an introduction, a conclusion, or a three-part thesis.  I strongly suggest that you consult the "Analytical Writing" section in the Writing tab in the site menu above. [I will also create a special page for writing instructions for our assignments.]

Include a picture to illustrate your essay.

5. So you can see what your classmates are thinking, I'll post all your work on the blog, with your names removed.  Reading your work is the best part for me, and they will enjoy it, too. 

5. See Course Policies below for other requirements and regulations.

Our course book

Our course book

Analytical Writing

Learn to analyze rather than summarize. Here are some suggestions for success.


Genesis 37-50 : Weeks of 26 Aug, 2 Sept

Properzia de Rossi, Joseph and Potiphar, marble relief, Bologna, c. 1520

Reading: the story of Joseph, Genesis 37-50.

Genesis assignment due Friday, 6 September, 9 a.m., via email


Exodus: Weeks of 9 & 16 Sept

The rescue of Moses, from a fresco at the Dura-Europus synagogue, Syria

Reading: the story of Moses, Exodus, complete.

Exodus assignment due Friday, 20 September, 9 a.m., via email


Homer: Weeks of 23 & 30 Sept

Telemachus and Penelope

Reading: excerpts from the Odyssey  (195-378).

Odyssey assignment due Friday, 4 October, 9 a.m., via email


Sophocles: Week of 7 Oct

Oedipus and the Theban Sphynx

Reading: Oedipus the King (400-37).

Sophocles assignment due Friday, 11 October, 9 a.m., via email


Virgil: Weeks of 14 & 21 Oct

Illustration from the Vatican Virgil

Reading: Virgil, Aeneid (477-578).

Virgil assignment due Friday, 25 October, 9 a.m., via email


Sappho / St. Augustine: Week of 28 Oct

Probably Sappho, from an ancient fresco; St. Augustine, Fra Angelico

Sappho, lyrics (379-89); Augustine, Confessions (763-90).

Sappho and Augustine assignment due Friday, 1 November, 9 a.m., via email



Beowulf: Weeks of 4 & 11 Nov


Beowulf (836-911).

Beowulf assignment due Friday, 15 November, 9 a.m., via email


Dante: Weeks of 25 Nov, 2 Dec

Michelino Dante

Dante, Inferno ((929-1083). Dante assignment due Friday, 6 December, 9 a.m., via email


Chaucer: Weeks of 9 & 16 Dec

Ellesmere ms. illustration of the Wyf

Chaucer, Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale  (1133-59)

Chaucer assignment due Friday, 20 December, 9 a.m., via email. This little paper,  due during finals week, will be in lieu of a final exam. Any revisions that you undertake are due on or before this date, as well.


course policies



We have no attendance. The equivalent is turning in your ten (10) graded assignments on time. You may miss two (2) of these. If you miss a third, you will fail the course, without exception, regardless of circumstances. 


Your paper and take-home exams are due on Fridays by 9 a.m. via email. Late papers = 0. No exceptions. 


Your semi-weekly writing should be submitted via a Word .docx in an email attachment.  PLEASE DO NOT SEND ME YOUR PAPERS IN GOOGLE DOCS. This format will not allow the recipient (me) to open the document  without permission. These should be 2-3 pp., double-spaced, with your name at the top.


It should go without saying that students are also expected to do their own work; indebtedness to secondary materials (either printed or electronic) must be clearly indicated so as to avoid plagiarism: 

—(piecemeal) using someone else’s words and phrases as if they were your own, not pararphrasing or summarizing properly, even with proper documentation;
—(grotesque) using someone else’s ideas as if they were your own, without proper documentation;
—(more grotesque) allowing someone else to write your paper for you.    



The course grade will be determined by the average of your ten (10) papers together, or eight (8), if you choose  not to submit two (2) of the nine (9) assignments, though this is risky. And, to repeat, if you fail to turn in three (3) of the assignments, you will fail the course, without exception, regardless of circumstances.

Grading is on a 5-point scale. 

5 = A   exceptional, original thinking, analytical-argumentative, fulfills the assignment or interprets it in an original way

4 = B  a better-than-average effort, with some originality and analytical rigor

3 =  C  average, respectable, workmanlike

2 = D  fair, does not fulfill the terms of the assignment, but better than nothing.

1 = F  unacceptable

0 = F  failure to turn in the assignment.

You may revise any paper that you turn in on time for a better grade. You may not write or revise an essay that you failed to submit by the original due date and time. I strongly advise you to meet with me before undertaking any revision.


You may email me at any time. I will usually get back to you quickly: stapletm@pfw.edu

I always acknowledge an email submission with a reply confirming receipt. If you DON'T hear from me after a reasonable period of time, it means I didn't get the paper. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up in this case, not mine.