Week 5 Discussion Questions

After reading Dream of the Rood, The Wife’s Lament, and Responsory for the Virgin, consider the questions below and compose a 250-word post addressing your impressions and understanding of the reading. You do not have to answer all the questions below — aim for one from each topic. 

This and every online discussion observes two deadlines:

  • post your answers by midnight on Wednesday (9/20)
  • read and comment on at least 5 posts by midnight on Sunday (9/24)

    • don’t forget to respond to comments on your own post as well!

You are encouraged to read more posts than the required number, of course, and to help us build a robust community both online and in person. 

Don’t know how to post? Go to the instructions page! Curious about how these get graded? See the Hybrid Requirements.

         1.  First Impressions

  • Start your post by offering some general ideas about how you felt about the text, things you liked, disliked, found confusing, or exciting. You can also ask questions you’d like your peers to answer in the comments.

        2. Comprehension

  • Consult the OED (you’ll need your York barcode if accessing from home) and look up words like rood, beacon, kinsman. How do these help or change your understanding of the texts?
  • What is a “responsory” and how does this fit in with the style of the Hildegard’s poem?
  • Discuss some of the titles by which the dreamer addresses the figure on the cross. How are they each significant in different ways?
  • What qualifies “The Wife’s Lament” as an elegy? Why might this genre have been popular in this period?

        3. Analysis

  • What elements do you seen in common between “The Wife’s Lament” and Beowulf? Think about things such as narrative, society, beliefs, themes.
  • What role does gender play in “The Wife’s Lament” and “Responsory for the Virgin”? Use specific examples to ground your discussion.
  • In what ways do these texts mix Pagan and Christian beliefs or values? How does this contribute to or complicate the narrative?
  • How would you describe the individual’s relationship with Christ/God as depicted in these readings? What does this relationship suggest about the medieval person’s understanding of self, identity, and the world around them?
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