The poetry of the people in the Middle Ages deserves as much consideration as the romances of the nobility. The ballad, the folk-song, and the fairy-tale are replete with curious superstitions and out-of-the-way information about people of simple life and quaint beliefs. The student will touch upon some of the unsolved problems of comparative literature, but he will also have to consider questions of the development of poetical technique and conventions of great interest in the history of prosody. He will be expected to read the large amount of reading recommended in Lectures on the Worlds Best Literature: English Literature: II. The Norman Conquest to Shakespeare (10661564) of the Students Course.
The literature of the Middle Ages is a great storehouse of romance, much of which still lives to-day. The stories of King Arthur and his Table Round have a perennial interest and even at the present day continue to inspire art and drama. No student of the best literature of the world can afford to neglect this largest and most characteristic phase of the literature of mediæval Europe.
The Middle Ages were pre-eminently the ages of religion. An unusually large number of writers of note have survived and with these this course aims to make the student acquainted. The ground covered stretches from the time of the early Fathers of the Church down to the period of the Italian Renaissance, and includes some of the more prominent writers in Hebrew or Arabic.
The great intellectual awakening of the European mind at the end of the Middle Ages manifested itself particularly in an outburst of great literature. It is a period of wide interests and of great personalities. After a rapid survey of its general conditions, the student will consider some of the great men whom it has given to the world.