Medieval/Renaissance Humanities
Course Description

Humanities 302
Section 01 [H]
Fall 2020
SLN 05095 — 3 Credits — No Pre-Requisites
MWF 1:10 – 2:00pm

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Avery Hall 355 — Washington State University
Hours: MWF 10:00-11:00, and by appointment.
Office Phone: 509-335-4832

Course Description:

Now that we all know that we’re an arbitrarily evolved and rather dorky species on one small poisoned planet out of nine, or eight (?), with a yellow sun in an obscure corner of a second-rate bass-ackwards galaxy in an expanding universe, what is to be salvaged from a time before psychotherapy, chemotherapy, restless leg syndrome, the meat industry, pharmaceutical cartels, a media “machine,” and hair-care “systems”? I hope it’s more than “quaintness.”

This Humanities course is designed to acquaint you better with the human and thoughtful side to life through literature, music, art, architecture, food, and other accomplishments of the medieval and renaissance worlds. The course will offer, just as the periods’ arts themselves were supposed to, the ideal union of “sentence and solas” — instruction and entertainment — as we examine courtly, religious, and popular works from the so-called High Middle Ages (right around when love was invented) up through the so-called Renaissance (when everything went to hell). We will address the cultural implications of these materials — that is, their impact in the minds and lives of those who have been influenced by them, and that includes ourselves.

I am particularly interested in how the principles and issues raised in this body of literature, art, music, and so forth, survive and arise in our own contemporary culture. I will encourage you to see and to make connections between ideas, attitudes, and cultures in classroom discussions, and to keep track of ideas currently circulating that interest you.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will gain exposure to Medieval and Renaissance thought, art, and influence by poring over some of the major artistic works which have shaped our culture and the way we think, thereby mastering a crucial representative component in a well-rounded education towards being a human, not just a consumer or an employee.

Students will increase intellectual maturation and clarification of their own values through examination of ideas and attitudes in literary/cultural contexts and especially through articulation of these in academic discourse.

Students will develop skills in critical thinking, verbal analysis, and detection of subtlety through reading, discussion, and writing about literature and other artistic media.

Required Texts:

[This is the text ordered at the Crimson & Gray and at the Bookie. You may use another scholarly edition but at your own risk; exams will be based largely on quotations drawn from this version.]

Dante. The Divine Comedy, Vol. I: Inferno. Trans. Mark Musa. Penguin Classics, 2002. ISBN 9780142437223.

Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice. Any scholarly edition.

[Lots of other crucial and cool materials will be provided in hand-outs, on various types of screens, and, if it proves possible, on plates.]

Course Requirements:

A significant part of your life this semester has to become Medieval/Renaissance studies. Studying this stuff can be demanding, but at least we’ll be doing it together as a “learning community.” Because classroom interaction is essential for this to be a valuable experience, and because frequent quizzes and homework writings will be exchanged and no late assignments of any sort will be accepted, more than three absences will affect your grade regardless of reason. Additionally, no late assignments of any sort nor make-up exams will be accepted. Here’s the math:

I will frequently ask for relatively minor homework assignments to be submitted electronically on the Blackboard system, designed primarily to stimulate subsequent discussion and to practice conventions for writing about literature and the arts. At other times I will ask you to answer questions in writing in class, often ad lib responses to the reading before class discussion begins. Homework assignments and quizzes will receive numerical grades (points) and, although these writings cannot be made up (except for a couple optional writings that can take their place), the final semester totals will be curved if necessary.(30%)

You may be responsible for some sort of contribution to the learning community that may serve also as work towards one of the written projects: perhaps a brief but impressive lead-off presentation on a topic arranged in advance that is dazzling, informative, and glamorous, involving some research, or parallel outside reading, and possibly snazzy visual aids; or a handy web page. Class participation and other service to the learning community — occasional group work, for example — will be expected. (10%)

Your presence will be required at two exams. No make-ups will be crafted for your convenience. Accompanying the in-class portions of each exam will be a written take-home essay turned in on the same day. Late essays will receive F grades; missing the exams or failure to turn anything in, even late, will result in an F for the course. (Each exam/essay: 30%)

Some introductory advice about succeeding with homework and exams can be found here.
And here is an explanation of letter grades assigned to class work. No make-up exams or assignments will be constructed. No incompletes will be given.

Students with Disabilities:

Reasonable accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities or chronic medical or psychological conditions. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit your campus’ Access Center/Services website to follow published procedures to request accommodations. Students may also contact their campus offices to schedule an appointment with a Disability Specialist. All disability related accommodations are to be approved through the Access Center/Services on your campus. It is a university expectation that students visit with instructors (via email, Zoom, or in person) to discuss logistics within two weeks after they have officially requested their accommodations. For more information contact a Disability Specialist: 509-335-3417. Access Center: E-mail

Academic Integrity:

As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. Any student plagiarizing on any assignment or cheating on any exam in this class will receive an F for the course and will be reported to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability, who remind us that Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty. Cheating is defined in the Standards for Student Conduct WAC 504-26-010 (3). It is strongly suggested that you read and understand these definitions and stop plagiarizing that Icarus essay on file in your sleazy frat.

Safety and Emergency Notification:

Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population. WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for “an active shooter incident” (which disturbingly seems to be precisely the one emergency the university expects). Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able).


Lust for engagement with the period, Gluttony for knowledge, Envy for motivating accomplishment, Greed for success, and Pride in your work are the only acceptable sins here. Sloth will be especially reprehensible and will be met with Ire.