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Medieval term paper

October 31, 2015 0 Comment

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Consider the following four quotations from course materials:

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgments. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being molded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society” (Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook).


”In a cosmic sense, every war concerns the struggle of light against darkness—of good against evil. In mythology there are copious examples of such struggles between the powers of light and the forces of darkness: Jupiter’s combat with the Titans, Thor versus the giants, Gilgamesh and other heroes versus monsters. The particular field of action is symbolic of the plane of reality on which the action takes place. In Islamic tradition, the material war is merely the ‘little holy war,’ whereas the ‘great holy war’ is that which liberates man from the enemies within. Guenon specifically states that the only justification for war is the reducing of multiplicity to unity—disorder to order. In this way, war can be seen as the means of reinstating the original order, or as a kind of sacrifice which echoes the cosmogonic sacrifice. Exactly the same applies to the psychic plane: man must seek to achieve inner unity in his actions, in his thoughts, and also between his actions and his thoughts. Unity of purpose is symbolized by ritual orientation, in which the terrestrial ‘centres’ (the North star, or the East) become visual images of the true ‘Centre” (J. E. Cirlot , War, The Dictionary of Symbols, 363-364).


“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for” (Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living).


“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces 117).



Literary pieces assigned: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England and his passage on Caedmon’s Hymn and “Caedmon’s Hymn”; Beowulf; The Nun’s Priest’s prologue and tale; or The Wife of Bath’s prologue and tale.


Compare and contrast your understanding of the ideas promulgated in one or more of the four quotations listed at the beginning of this assignment to one or more of medieval literary pieces assigned. Your task is to show the perhaps surprising relevance of these pieces to modern and post-modern culture when your reading includes the understanding of the existence of the unconscious that reveals a mythological and symbolic understanding applicable to and through personal exploration of the self.

I want you to consider the way education leads or fails to lead us to understand the paradigm shift from the literal level of story as mere entertainment in placed in narrative line that reinforces institutional demands on the individual to the narrative as an internal labyrinth of personal understanding signified in the work of Joseph Campbell.


This is a brief (1,000-1500 word, primary sourced paper that includes at least 2 sources). There must be a thesis wherein you take a position and advance an argument on one of the posted topic. There must be clear evidence of close reading of the assignments made in conjunction with the selected text. This includes quoting from the primary text to support your argument and evidence of a close reading of for instance Joseph Campbell (not a reading of what someone says Campbell says).


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