Spring 2015: 128

Medieval Celtic Culture

4 units
TuTh 9:30-11
Professor Emeritus Daniel F. Melia

L&S Breadth: Historical Studies OR Social & Behavioral Sciences

“The past is another country; they do things differently there.” How did they do things in the medieval Celtic world? For that matter, who were “they” anyway? This course will examine a few crucial documents and review the existing evidence for daily life, law, “literature,” religion, family life etc. etc. in the Celtic-speaking world from about A.D. 500-1500. We will also look at the question of our reconstruction of the Celtic past. Is the past merely an artifact of the present? How can we judge the validity of our scattered and difficult sources?

Course requirements:

1.) 3 short quizzes in class.
2.) 1 group report in class.
3.) 1 final 3‑hour examination.

The minimum grade will be the mean numerical average of all required written work: Quizzes = 5% each; Report = 25%; Class Particiation 15%; Final Exam=45%.Improvement and in‑class performance will be rewarded.

Required Reading:

Oxford History of Ireland, R.F. Foster, Oxford University Press, Revised edition (December 27, 2001) ISBN-10: 019280202X , ISBN-13: 978-0192802026

The Tain, trans. Thomas Kinsella (Oxford Univ. Press) ISBN-10: 0192803735
ISBN-13: 978-0192803733

Ford, Patrick, tr. The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1977. Any edition OK.

O’Meara, John J., tr. Gerald of Wales: The History & Topography of Ireland. NewYork: Penguin Classics (March 31, 1983) ISBN-10: 0140444238 ,ISBN-13: 978-0140444230

Thorpe, Lewis, tr. Gerald of Wales: The Journey through Wales/The Description of Wales. New York: Penguin Classics (December 14, 1978) ISBN-10: 0140443398 ISBN-13: 978-0140443394

Confession and Epistle of St. Patrick [http://www.confessio.ie/#]

Aneirin: Y Gododdin [http://www.maryjones.us/ctexts/a01b.html] (Clancy translation)


A Guide to Early Irish Law, by Fergus Kelly. Published: 1988 (repr. 1991, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2005, 2009) ISBN: 978-1-85500-214-2

Prerequisites: None.