A study of Piers Plowman, the brilliant and expansive poem probably authored by William Langland in three versions between the 1360s and about 1390. We make a sequential reading of what is called the “C version.” Simultaneously, we study aspects of the poem’s early circulation. To this end, we examine Beinecke holdings (an early fragment and the 1550 Crowley prints) and also read several of the texts that co-located with Piers Plowman in manuscript: The Prick of Conscience, The Book of John Mandeville, The Siege of Jerusalem, and the Pistle of Susan. We also explore knotty problems relating to the poem’s form and language(s); narrative technique; socio-cultural positioning; and its thought.
Full syllabus here. I have also set up an open zotero group for this seminar, providing bibliography for study of Piers Plowman, Siege of Jerusalem, and Prick of Conscience, with special attention to manuscript circulation.