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The English department recommends Eng 107-108-109 for English and Language Arts majors; since these majors go on to take full sequences in British and American literatures, the Western literature sequence minimizes its inclusion of those texts, focusing instead on continental Europe.
This second term of the Western Literature sequence covers the medieval, Renaissance, and early Enlightenment periods, roughly 800-1750 C.E. During this time, the Catholic church (the ONLY Christian church in the medieval era) is the dominant force in European society, though its hold is challenged by the end of the 15th century by Luther and other Protestant reformers. Hence, a nodding acquaintance with the basic principles of medieval Catholic faith (such as the sacrament of confession, indulgences, the Mass, veneration of saints and the Virgin Mary) will prove useful. A good encyclopedia article will provide enough initial background if you feel ignorant. Keep in mind, however, that the modern Catholic church has undergone a variety of changes since the Middle Ages. By the end of the term, students will have read enough literature from this period to understand the literary and cultural milieu that informed these works. And know how to spell ‘medieval’.