Course Offerings:

Fall 2014

Updated:  9/9/2014

Art History

AHIS G4102 Chinese Art Under the Mongols, T 2:10-4pm
Instructor: R. Harrist  Points: 3 LECTURE

The Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), when China was ruled by the Mongols, was a period of intense creativity in the visual arts of all media. Long the focus of studies devoted to China’s scholar-amateur or literati artists, the period of Mongol rule has more recently inspired new approaches that attempt to deal with a much wider range of materials and that place the arts of the Yuan dynasty within a pan-Asian context. Focusing on works of art in local collections, we will address topics such as the definition of Mongol identity as expressed in the visual arts produced in China, the continuation of workshop and professional painting traditions illuminated by recent archaeological discoveries, relationships among the arts of different media, including metalwork, ceramics, and textiles. The seminar also will require students to reexamine long accepted notions of “self-expression” and the social dimensions of literati painting and calligraphy.

AHIS G4451, The Materiality of Painting From Titian to Velazquez, R 2:10-4:00PM
Instructor: D. Bodart   Points: 3     SEMINAR

Venetian painting of the 16th century was famous for its painting process-colorito-that was entirely produced through colors without the use of drawn lines. Titian was the main representative of colorito and his work reflects the emergence of visible brushstrokes in painting. This seminar will focus on the emergence of the Venetian brushstroke and its transfer to Spain, particularly as it relates to the works of El Greco and Velázquez. Interested undergraduates, please send an email to for registration assistance.

AHIS G8709, In Front of the Object, T 2:10-4PM
Instructor: A. Shalem    Points: 3     SEMINAR

This graduate level seminar explores our interaction with art objects in the museum. It does so by studying the object as the subject of our inquiring gaze while paying attention to its material, production technique, shape and formation as related to time and style, and its specific decoration and, in some cases, its inscription as the strategies, through which messages and meanings are transmitted. Each of the meetings will take place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the new gallery for the arts of Islam, and will be devoted to one single object. Different materials will be discussed, such as glass, ceramic, bronze, ivory and wood as well as illuminated manuscripts’ pages. The museum context will be also critically discussed as an interactive space, in which the art object is deliberately reinvented to answer particular cultural demands and to narrate stories and histories. The museum’s making of the art object a masterpiece, marvel, and iconic and authentic item will be also addressed.


LATN G6154,  Latin Paleography, T 5:30-8PM, RBML
Instructor:  Carmela Franklin, Consuelo Dutschke  Points: 3  LECTURE

Study of the development of Latin scripts from Antiquity to the Renaissance. The practical skills of reading and dating scripts, the research tools for working with manuscripts, the means and the historical context of the production of manuscript books, with attention to the history of the transmission of Latin texts during the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. Manuscripts held by Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library are fully integrated into class study. Space is limited to 15 students.

East Asian Languages and Cultures

CHNS G8030, Graduate Seminar: Pre-Modern Chinese Fiction and Drama, M 2:10-4PM
Instructor: Wei Shang  Points: 4  SEMINAR

HSEA G8879, Early Modern China, T 4:10-6pm
Instructor: Dorothy Ko  Points: 3  SEMINAR

This graduate colloquium is an introduction to “early modern” Chinese culture and society (15th to 19th centuries) in a global and comparative framework. As such, it provides a broad overview of some of the influential books that have shaped the field in the recent two decades. The books and topics are selected in part because of their relevance to studies of modern China and Europe. The course is designed for: (i) Ph.D. and M.A. students in history, literature, art history, and religious studies who desire to conduct research in the Ming-Qing period, (ii) those who major in modern China who are considering an oral exam field in the Ming-Qing period, and (iii) those interested in comparative modernities in a regional or global frame. The goal of the colloquium is to familiarize students with the key issues under debate in the fields of history (and, to a lesser extent, art history)-an international endeavor that involves scholars in China, Taiwan, Japan, America, and Europe. The readings may include key texts in Chinese; students who do not read Chinese can contribute all the same by taking up alternative texts in English for the week. The term “early modern” in the title of the course is a placeholder: its applicability to a period otherwise known as “late imperial” is the very issue under debate in the field and in this class. Field(s): EA

English and Comparative Literature:

CLEN G6028  Early Ecopoetics,  T 6:10-8PM
Instructor: Eleanor Johnson    Points: 4   SEMINAR

What is “ecology” in the Middle Ages, and how and why does it matter in medieval literature?  Do medieval writers understand nature as a privileged and ontologically stable category, or as something constructed and constantly under pressure, both by human industry and poetic making?  Where exactly do medieval poets understand the place of humans to be in the larger cosmos, particularly in relation to other kinds of beings, such as animals, other people, objects, plants or spirits? What does it mean to these poets to think ecologically?

ENGL W4091, Introduction to Old English, MW 10:10-11:25AM
Instructor: Patricia Dailey  Points: 3  LECTURE

This class is an introduction to the language and literature of England from around the 8th to the 11th centuries. Because this is predominantly a language class, we will spend much of our class time studying grammar as we learn to translate literary and non-literary texts. While this course provides a general historical framework for the period as it introduces you to the culture of Anglo-Saxon England, it will also take a close look at how each literary work contextualizes (or recontextualizes) relationships between human and divine, body and soul, individual and group, animal and human. We will be using Mitchell and Robinson’s An Introduction to Old English, along with other supplements. We will be looking at recent scholarly work in the field and looking at different ways (theoretical, and other) of reading these medieval texts. Requirements: Students will be expected to do assignments for each meeting. The course will involve a mid-term, a final exam, and a final presentation on a Riddle which will also be turned in.

ENGL W4191  English Literature 1500-1600, MW 1:10-2:25PM
Instructor: Alan Stewart  Points: 3  LECTURE

This lecture course examines sixteenth-century English literature in the light of the new religious, soical and political challenges of the period.  Texts, primarily poetry and prose, include lyric poetry by Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, earl of surrey, and John Donne; sonnet sequences by Philip Sidney and William Shakespeare; early narrative works by George Gascoigne and Thomas Nashe; works of Early English literary criticism; travel writings by Walter Ralegh and Thomas Harriot; as wellas longer texts including More’s Utopia and Spenser’s Faerie Queene.

ENGL W4201, Early Caribbean Literature, MW 11:40AM-12:55PM
Instructor: Cristobal Silva  Points: 3  LECTURE

This lecture course is an introductory survey of early Caribbean Literature.  Focusing primarily on the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries, we will ask how the Caribbean signified for writers across the Atlantic World, and how it shaped natural and political spaces in that world.  Given that the Caribbean was a rapidly shifting zone of economic, linguistic, racial, and class interests, we will consider the various ways that we might narrate a literary history of the region.  Indeed, while working toward this goal, we will be conscious of the national, generic, and temporal frameworks that have traditionally shaped literary studies in departments of English, and ask how our texts resist or reaffirm those frameworks.  How and to what degree, we will ask, does the Caribbean disrupt our modes of literary analysis?

ENGL G6725, Shakespeare in Performance, R 2:10-4:00PM
Instructor: Julie Peters   Points: 4   SEMINAR


FREN G8214, Rabelais and Montaigne, M 4:10-6pm
Instructor: Antoine M Compagnon  Points: 3  SEMINAR

Close reading of Rabelais and Montaigne, in the context of the Renaissance, the rise of the individual, the religious quarrels, the civil wars, the discovery of the New World, the progress of science.

FREN G8224 Le Roman de la rose and Medieval Discourses of Nature W 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: Jonathan Morton   Points: 3  SEMINAR

Taking as its main focus the thirteenth-century allegory Le roman de la rose, this course will consider the poem itself and its curious position as a touchstone for discussions of nature, art, and ethics in the Middle Ages. The first half of the course will involve close readings of the Rose with a particular focus on questions about language, obscenity, and desire. For the second part, we will consider how the Rose responds to and participates in different debates in medieval poetry and philosophy, such as the ethics of money, the relationship between art and nature, and queer desire.   The class is  taught in English, although a reading knowledge of French will be necessary. Wednesdays 14:10-16:00. Philosophy Hall, room 201D. Prof Morton is also running reading classes in Old French for the first 6 weeks immediately before the seminar (13:25-14:05) in his office.



HIST W4106, Family Sex and Marriage in Premodern Europe, T 4:10pm-6:00PM
Instructor: Martha Howell  Points: 4  SEMINAR

HIST W4125, Censorship/Free Expression in Early Modern Europe, M 9-10:50PM
Instructor: Elisheva Carlebach  Points: 4  SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Instructor’s Permission Required: SEE UNDERGRADUATE SEMINAR SECTION OF THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT’S WEBSITE In this course we will examine theoretical and historical developments that framed the notions of censorship and free expression in early modern Europe. In the last two decades, the role of censorship has become one of the significant elements in discussions of early modern culture. The history of printing and of the book, of the rise national-political cultures and their projections of control, religious wars and denominational schisms are some of the factors that intensified debate over the free circulation of ideas and speech. Indexes, Inquisition, Star Chamber, book burnings and beheadings have been the subjects of an ever growing body of scholarship.

HIST W4609, Marriage/Kinship in Medieval Egypt,  T, 11-12:50pm
Instructor: TBA   Points: 4   SEMINAR

This class will explore the everyday culture reflected in the Geniza manuscripts through the lens of kinship relations and family life. The course will introduce a range of genres of Geniza documents (court records, contracts and deeds, legal responsa, and personal letters). We will read examples of these documents alongside contemporary Jewish legal and literary works, Islamic literature, and recent work in medieval Islamic social history. Taking a comparative approach to this material, we will work to understand how the authors of these documents understood marriage, divorce, and parenthood, and how these relationships positioned individuals economically and socially within the broader communities in which they lived. In the process, you will learn how to use documents and literary sources as evidence for social history, as well as learn a great deal about Jews’ everyday life in medieval Egypt.

HIST G6999, Graduate Lecture: Medieval Jewish Cultures, MW: 11:40-12:55pm
Instructor: Elisheva Carlebach   Points: 4  LECTURE

HIST G6999, Graduate Lecture: Intro-Early Middle Ages, 250-1050, MW 10:10-11:25am
Instructor: Adam Kosto     Points: 4         LECTURE

HIST G6999, Graduate Lecture: Medieval Intellectual Life, 1050-1400, MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Instructor: Joel Kaye     Points: 4         LECTURE

HIST G8061, Topics in Pre-modern Historiography, Tuesdays 2:10-4:00
Instructor: Joel Kaye  Points: 4  COLLOQUIA

HIST G8368, Early Modern British History, R 9-10:50am
Instructor: Christopher Brown  Points: 4  SEMINAR

HIST G8906, Craft and Science: Objects and Their Making in the Early Modern World, TF 9-10:50am
Instructor: Pamela Smith  Points: 4  COLLOQUIA

This course will study the materials, techniques, settings, and meanings of skilled craft and artistic practices in the early modern period (1350-1750), in order to reflect upon a series of issues, including craft knowledge and artisanal epistemology; the intersections between craft and science; and questions of historical methodology and evidence in the reconstruction of historical experience. The course will be run as a “Laboratory Seminar,” with discussions of primary and secondary materials, as well as hands-on work in a laboratory. This course is one component of the Making and Knowing Initiative of the Center for Science and Society (short description attached). Thus, in its first years, this course contributes to the collective production of a critical edition of a late sixteenth-century manuscript, Ms. Fr. 640. Students are encouraged to take this course for both semesters (or more) but will only receive full credit once.

HIST G8932, History and Theory of the Premodern European Market Economy, W 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: Martha Howell  Points: 4  COLLOQUIA

This colloquium will examine the European market economy from the burst of commercialization and urbanization at the end of the Middle Ages until the eve of the so-called Industrial Revolution. Topics will include the mechanisms and institutions of trade and production for the market; the commercialization of agriculture; the definition of property itself; consumption and material culture; international exploration and commerce; the role of the state in commerce. Readings will include empirical studies of particular market sectors or developments in addition to theoretical or more generally interpretative texts by scholars such as Marx, Braudel, Polanyi, Weber, or Agnew.

HIST G9067, Medieval Societies and Institutions I, M 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: Adam Kosto    Points: 4    SEMINAR

This is a one-term research seminar designed for PhD students in medieval European history; it is open to others with the instructor’s permission.  In Fall 2014, the seminar will focus on the study of medieval legal history.  First-year PhD students in medieval history are required to register for this course; others are encouraged to do so.  The course will focus on medieval Latin sources, although students interested in exploring vernacular documents may do so.  Students will be expected to have a basic knowledge of medieval history and facility in reading Latin and either French or German.

HSEA G6009, Colloquium on Early Modern Japan, R 4:10-6pm
Instructor: Gregory Pflugfelder  Points: 3  COLLOQUIA

Reading and discussion of primary and secondary materials dealing with Japanese history from the 16th through 19th centuries. Attention to both historical and historiographic issues, focusing on a different theme or aspect of early modern history each time offered. May be repeated for credit. Field(s): EA


ITAL W4020, Mediterranean contacts, Mediterranean conflicts, MW 4:10-5:25
Instructor: Pier Mattia Tommasino  Points: 3  LECTURE

Was Dante influenced by Arabic literature? And what about Petrarch? What can we learn about the problem of salvation in three Faiths reading Boccaccio? Which Saladin did Paolo Giovio choose for his Renaissance gallery of portraits? This course proposes a new approach to Medieval and Early Modern Italian Literature. We will read classics of Italian Literature, such as Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, focusing on historical and religious issues such as exile and translation or trans-confessional nobility. This course will give you insight into and philological tools to engage in the current debate about religions of the Mediterranean. We will analyze primary sources such as Dante’s Comedy, Boccaccio’s Decameron and Massuccio’s novelle, with the aim to discuss scholarly works about Christian and Muslim interactions, tolerance and salvation, and anti-Judaism.

ITAL G4097, Italian Renaissance Romance Epic I, M 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: Jo Ann Cavallo  Points: 3  LECTURE

An in-depth study of Italy’s two major romance epics, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato and Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, in their literary and historical contexts. Topics include creative imitation, genre,allegory, ideology, and politics. Attention will also be given to the place of these two texts in the global history of the epic.

Latin American and Iberian Cultures:

CPLS W4100, Andaulsian Symbiosis: Islam/West, W 2:10pm-4:00pm
Instructor: Patricia E Grieve, Muhsin Al-Musawi  Points: 4   SEMINAR

This interdisciplinary team-taught seminar deals with the rich culture of Iberia (present-day Spain and Portugal) during the period when it was an Islamic, mostly Arabic-speaking territory-from the eighth to the fifteenth century. This theme course is significant in its approach to the study of Andalusia for a number of reasons: it grounds the study of Muslim Spain in the larger context of the history of Islam and of Arabic culture outside of Spain; it embraces many aspects of the hybrid Andalusian legacy: history, language, literature, philosophy, music, art, architecture, and sciences, among others; and, while the course includes materials from Christian writers, the textual materials focus more on Arabic writings and the viewpoint of Muslim Spaniards. The course closely examines the cultural symbiosis between Arab Muslims and Christian Europeans during the eight centuries of their coexistence in Andalusia. Through a critical reading of an appropriately chosen set of texts translated into English from Arabic, Latin, Spanish and other Iberian dialects, students will study the historical, literary, linguistic, religious, artistic, architectural, and technological products that were created by the remarkable symbiosis that took place in Andalusia. With its multiethnic and multilingual forms the Andalusian legacy bears direct resemblance to our contemporary multicultural world and provides students with a rare opportunity to integrate knowledge of different sources and viewpoints. In the first and final weeks, we compare how two contemporary historical novels, by Arab writer Radwa Ashour and Tariq Ali (of Pakistani extraction), treat the fall of Granada in 1492. Class discussion and readings in English.

SPAN G6540, Global Heroes, Peri-Iberian Knights, T 1:10pm-3:55pm
Instructor: Jesús Rodríguez-Velasco

This is a research seminar, in the sense that in addition to discuss theoretical and critical issues, we are going to produce knowledge from the vantage point of the primary sources. Our main question, therefore, is –what are the questions and concepts with which our primary sources respond to the political, social, and cultural exigences of the construction of global heroism.  The word “hero” in Greek “hérōs”, means “protector”, and it is etymologically related to the Latin verb “seruare”, “to preserve, to protect.” It has the same etymology as “service”, “to serve”, and “serf”. Heroism is, in this sense, not only a key element of political and social service, it is, as well, a civil and political duty. This is the kind of analysis that we will be leading, and the kind of genealogy of global political duties that we will be pursuing. In this sense, we will necessarily consider how the concept of global heroism allows us, as well, to understand the genealogies of some contemporary political conversations regarding what is heroic in everyday life in a global society of systemic violence –including the issues on infrapolitics and “subaltern heroes”. We will address the question of global heroism from the perspective of Iberian studies –and we will contribute to a redefinition of Iberian studies. The main thesis regarding Iberian studies is that “Iberian” cannot be considered a geographical region, and that the Iberian is, in fact, a challenge to such conception. This is why we are playing with the very name, and talking about the “peri-Iberian”, which playfully evokes not only the peripheral, but also the movements that, even if have the Iberian worlds as a geopolitical gravitational force, describe different dynamics concentric to this problematic, multilingual, multi-political, multi-religious, gravitational center. One possible definition for the “peri-Iberian”, or even for “Periberia” is “A certain way of circum-circulation and networking, extremely dynamic, and that constantly blurs the dialectics of center/periphery, colonies/metropolis, and others (even “frontiers” or “borderlands”) and that is permanently in need of inventing composite languages. Periberia is constantly defining subgeographies.” Periberian cultures occur, thus, in the Mediterranean, in Northern Africa, in Greece, in the Middle East, in the Indian Ocean, in China, in the Americas, in the Pacific, etc. For this reason, our primary sources include texts in Spanish, Latin, Portuguese, Catalan, Greek, Arabic, French, Occitan.

Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies:

MDES W4764, Modern and Medieval Islamic Political Thought, R 11:00am-12:50pm
Instructor: Hamid Dabashi  Points: 4  SEMINAR


PHIL G9670, Topics in Early Modern Philosophy, M 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: Christia Mercer  Points: 3  SEMINAR

Radical Rationalism: The philosophy of Anne Conway

Political Science

POLS W4133, Political Thought, Classical and Medieval, TR 4:10-5:25
Instructor: Jennifer London  Points: 4   LECTURE

In this course, we will read classical and medieval writings that span multiple linguistic, historic and religious contexts. The goal is to explore similar notions of the just world that span these varied writings, from Plato’s Republic to Zoroastrian and Early Islamic writings on just rule. Such similarities will highlight how some of these works represent cultural amalgams that blend Greek, Persian and Arabic elements. Yet, we will also consider how these writings differ and how their authors constructed them to respond to their unique political concerns. Throughout this course, we will consider how authors drew upon their foreign status, as aliens, outsiders, or clients to conquering tribes, to transform politics. And we will ask why these authors invoke and re-imagine particular models of the just world to represent their ideal notions of sovereignty, equity and justice. In the end, we will question how the foreign roots of ancient and medieval thought can help us fathom the basic underpinnings of founding documents today.


RELI G4170, History of Christianity: World of the First Crusade, M 4:10pm-6:00pm
Instructor: Robert Somerville   Points: 4    SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission. Latin Christendom, 1050-1130, as general background for the First Crusade, 1095-1099. Readings in both primary and secondary sources in English translation.

RELI G8103, Seminar in Law/Medieval Christianity  F, 2:10-4:00
Instructor: Robert Somerville  Points: 3  SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission. Gratian’s Decretum and the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX: Parts 1 & 2 of the Corpus Iuris Canonici.

RELI G9400, Readings in Japanese Religion, M 2:10-4pm
Instructor: Michael Como Points: 4 SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Reading knowledge of Japanese or Chinese This course is designed for advanced graduate students in need of introduction to non-Buddhist as well as Buddhist sources for the study of pre-modern Japanese religion.  The course may be repeated for credit.   The following represents a sample syllabus centering upon the themes of astrology and divination in early Japanese religion.