The Medieval Hero, East and West (HIST 233)

2023 Spring
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Zeynep Nevin Yelçe,
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Interactive lecture
Interactive,Communicative,Discussion based learning
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Designed as an introduction to reading and analyzing epic narratives, this course focuses on four such key types of works re-introduced in writing during the Middle Ages : the Shahnama, the Oghuznama, the Alexander Romance, and the Arthurian Legends. Introduced at the outset will be the main themes and narrative tools employed in the construction of epics; the common features which make a “hero”; and the relevant historical contexts. These will then be brought to bear on a close examination of the works in question, with the final case study of Alexander and the Romances serving to explore the common aspects of “Eastern” and “Western” epics and heroes. The course will conclude with a discussion of the afterlife of these epics.


To teach the basic concepts and issues in medieval epics in order to provide students with skills in text analysis and a comparative look on different cultures through their oral and written narratives.


  • Upon completion of the course, students should be able to: a. Comprehend the basic concepts and issues in medieval epics b. Discuss the fundemantal stories and motifs c. Recognize and interpret a work of art with relavant subject-matter d. Improve essay-writing and oral self expression skills e. Research specific interests contributing to the general theme


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 5

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 4

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 4

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 5

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 3

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 4

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 4

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 4

1. Understand and follow changes in patterns of political behavior, ideas and structures. 5

2. Develop the ability to make logical inferences about social and political issues on the basis of comparative and historical knowledge. 5


  Percentage (%)
Final 35
Midterm 20
Assignment 25
Participation 20



John Renard, Islam and the Heroic Image: Themes in Literature and the Visual Arts, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1999.

Dean A. Miller, The Epic Hero, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, *** Davis (trans.), London: Penguin, 2006 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition).

Zeki Velidi Togan, Oğuz destanı: Reşideddin Oğuznâmesi, tercüme ve tahlili, İstanbul: Enderun Kitabevi, 1982.

Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, London: Penguin, 1986.

Geoffrey Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, Lewis Thorpe (trans.), London: Penguin, 1977.

Ahmedi, İskendername?den Seçmeler, Yaşar Akdoğan (ed.), Ankara: T.C. Kültür Bakanlığı, 2000.

Pseudo-Callisthenes, The Greek Alexander Romance, Richard Stoneman (ed. and trans.), London: Penguin, 1991.