We have seen this semester that the main medium of communication throughout the Middle Ages was speech. Oral poetry, romances, scientific and religious texts, dream visions, and even medical treatments were memorized and recited for personal health or social edification.  As writing became more and more popular, oral memorization techniques began to fade way. In order to experience the world of orality, you will memorize a section of one of the literary works we have read this semester.

Due Dates

December 26th, 13-15:00.

An appointment form will be shared later. 

Grade: You MUST have completed the midterm and both writing assignments.  Memorization will increase your lowest grade on one of these assignments by 1-2 letter grades, depending on the quality of the memorization. 

The memorization assignment can be done in one of two ways:

Method 1: Standard Rote Memorization

Memorize a passage from a Middle English text we have read this semester. Your passage should come from one of the following texts and be memorized EXACTLY and in Middle English or Early Modern English.

Rote memorization texts:

• Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Prologue: lines 1-34 (Online here)

• Sir Orfeo: lines 40-72

• Salerno Medical Poem: lines 331-370

Method 2: Memory Theater

Create a memory theater by which you memorize an entire text. The memorized text does not have to be exact, but you should be able to retell the tale in its entirety. Submit a representation of your memory theater along with your recitation: this should be a visual image or text (Yes: Draw it, Paint it, or Create it!).  Though your memory theater should be unique to you, you can explore "the culture of memory" here

Memory theater texts:

• Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (One Tale)

• Everyman (Complete)

• Sir Orfeo (Complete)

• Chevrefoil (Complete. Note: Maximum grade BB)

• (See me for other suggestions)

Guide for creating a memory theater:

Draw or create a familiar theater or building in which there are many rooms (1-7 rooms, depending on the length of tale). In each room you should place strange objects (Dragon with purple ears and ice cream, Unicorn with three swords, Firebreathing mermaid, etc). Each room symbolizes a part of the text you are memorizing and each strange object the details of the text. As you move from room to room in your imagination, you can visualize the entire text as symbolic images. Meter and rhyme can also help you count your steps as you move between your imaginary rooms. Here are some examples of modern memory theaters to give you some ideas.

Memory Association & Tricks