Medieval Patience Literature
0.5 Credit

In certain medieval compositions, women became famous for the virtue of patience in the same way that men became famous for traditional "heroic" virtues. This kind of fame led to a specific genre of medieval composition called Patience Literature. The genre, which has until recently been largely neglected, has an important history and demands critical reassessment. The course begins with an exploration of the genre in early martyrologies, and goes on to consider the reasons for the genre becoming associated primarily with female characters. The course further demonstrates how Margery Kempe's "trials" make surprising sense when considered as examples of the patience genre, and how Chaucer's "Clerk's Tale" functions as a reductio ad absurdum of the patience genre.