I can't wait to start planning Julia's homeschool year. Here's a proposed list of her texts for Medieval Literature, 10th grade. I'm so excited!
We'll begin with Beowulf in our literature study.
Heaney's work gives us the beauty of the original text. I may use this opportunity to study the language of Old English with Julia too, giving her a few basics.
Next on the list is Dante's Inferno. I love Longfellow's translation, and we'll study the six sonnets he wrote to accompany the translation. This is actually a rather quick read. Longfellow maintains Dante's triplet stanza pattern (called terza rima form), and the reading clips along. We'll enjoy Gustave Dore's artwork at this point also.
Julia is familiar with this story, and we'll spend a week enjoying it. I have two copies of it on my shelves, in different translations. Might be a good opportunity to see how they vary. Actually, I think I may have three translations in the house.
Our next text is Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. At this point we'll stop using translations and begin using original text solely. This will slow us considerably as we do Chaucer, but it's worth it. Julia will quickly realize how easy Middle English is to read, and it will become fun -- it's almost like a game as you read; every minute or so, the lightbulb goes on in your head, and your realize what a particular tricky word is. We will do extensive selections from the Tales, but not everything.
Again, we'll use the original text, which in Malory is not difficult at all. I love the original spellings, without an editor's hand, but that's harder to find. Again, we may not have time to read the entire tome; it's large. But if we're enjoying it, we'll stick with it as long as she likes. The difficulty is trying to find the time in the day to read it all aloud. I do prefer to read all literature aloud with her. I enjoy the reading very much myself, and it gives me opportunity to ensure that she understands absolutely everything.(I'll mention at this point that I want Julia to read Ivanhoe on her own this year -- such a wonderful read! The author is modern, but the setting is so wonderfully medieval.)
I recall being bored with Spenser's Fairie Queene in college. I intend to spend some time figuring out which portions we would enjoy most, and selecting accordingly.
Last, we'll study a couple of Shakespeare's plays. Right now I'm leaning toward Henry V and Hamlet, since we are in medieval times. We'll enjoy movies of these plays afterward.
Notice the complete lack of random poems by e.e. cummings, short stories by Poe, or novels by obscure African writers. That's because I dislike the chaos evident in nearly every literature text out there. They throw chronology to the wind and pretend that no violence will be done to the student's sense of order, his understanding of culture and history, if literature is thrown at his head willy-nilly -- as if the only thing that matters is that all poetry be studied in the same 6-week period. (Insert teacherly scream here.) I love the fact that Julia's literature study this August will begin with Augustine discussing the details of Rome's fall, the exact historical event she ended with in May. It's so easy to guide one's literature and history readings by time, presenting orderly cause-and-effect. Why, oh why, do curriculum makers go to such great lengths to destroy this order? Think of how helpful it would be to your child's understanding of history, if his literature were taught in chronological order? If his history courses and literature courses were also presented to him in chronological order?