Course offerings will be updated as we receive more information.  Consult the Course Directory or individual department homepages for additional information.

This is the full list of graduate courses for Fall 2016. For undergraduate courses, please see this list.

Last updated 25 August 2016.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Courses

MRST G6999 MA Thesis (open only to Medieval & Renaissance Studies MA students)
Independent study for either the semester in which the thesis is being proposed or the semester in which it is being written.

MRST G6020 Medieval & Renaissance Philology (open only to Medieval & Renaissance Studies MA students)

Latin GR6154 / MRST GR6154 Latin Paleography. Consuelo Dutschke & Carmela Franklin. W 9am-12pm. RBML, Chang Room.

Art History & Archaeology

AHIS GU4627 Life of a Cathedral: Notre Dame. Stephen Murray. T 10:10am-12pm. Location TBA.
Like a great city, the cathedral brings together multiple segments of society in lively collaboration and conflict.  We will explore the three overlapping worlds of the cathedral: the world of the clergy (owners and principal users), the world of the layfolk (parishioners, townsfolk and pilgrims) and the world (most mysterious) of the architects, or master masons.  The semester is thus divided into three parts: each class will be preceded by an intense look at a specific aspect of the life of the cathedral and a reading presented by one of the participants as specified in the schedule below.   Participants in the class will also be invited to contribute to the development of a new website on the cathedral, designed for the use of Art Humanities students.

AHIS GR8308 Spanish Italy. Michael Cole. T 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
Application required by 1 August 2016; see Art History department website for more information.
This seminar will focus on the importance of Spanish culture and politics for the art of various Italian centers across the early modern period. It will consider relations between the semi-independent northern Italian city-states and the Spanish dominions of Naples and Sicily, giving particular attention to key patrons like Pedro Alvarez and Eleonora of Toledo. It will look at the impact in Italy of Spanish religious leaders from Dominic de Guzman to Teresa of Avila. It will note the use of art and artists in diplomatic exchange and spend extended time with those Italian artists, as varied as Titian, Leoni Leoni, Sofonisba Anguissola, El Greco, and Pellegrino Tibaldi, who worked from a distance for the Spanish court or even moved to Spain.

AHIS GR8313 The Renaissance Architectural Treatise and the Rise of Printing. M. Waters. W 10:10-12.  934 Schermerhorn Hall.
Application required by 1 August 2016; see Art History department website for more information.
This course examines the relationship between architectural culture and the technology of printing in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The advent of printing has increasingly been seen as transforming all aspects of visual culture, including architecture. The historian Mario Carpo specifically has argued that mechanical reproduction created stable architectural images that removed the drift inherent in a system of drawn copies. In doing so, the printed treatise codified a new canon of easily reproducible, standardized Orders and marginalized a fluid sketchbook tradition built on the practice of copying drawings. But was print in fact that revolutionary? By examining manuscripts, printed books, drawings, and engravings, this seminar will attempt to gain a better understanding of how print shaped architectural thought and practice. In particular, we will analyze a series Renaissance architectural treatises and try to understand the complex, dialectical relationship between medium and content, both in terms of word and image.

East Asian Languages and Culture

Chinese GU4507 Readings in Classical Chinese. TR 10:10-11:25am. Location TBA.
Prerequisites: CHNS W3302 or the equivalent. Admission after placement exam. Focusing on Tang and Song prose and poetry, introduces a broad variety of genres through close readings of chosen texts as well as the specific methods, skills, and tools to approach them. Strong emphasis on the grammatical and stylistic analysis of representative works.

Japanese GR8040 Premodern Japanese Literature. W 2:10-5pm. Location TBA.
Prerequisites: JPNS W4007-W4008 or the equivalent, and the instructor’s permission.

East Asian GR8042 Classical Chinese Poetry. Harrison Huang. T 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
This graduate seminar reads canonical medieval poems against their relevant counterparts in leishu (compendiums arranged by classification systems that served as writing handbooks). We examine these compendiums as thresholds—lying outside the poems as their ostensible background material, these thesholds not only frame questions of genre and genealogy but also mediate the borders of poems. Some questions posed by this course: What conceptual paradigms are operative in the deployment of particular classifications? What are the implications for interpretive practice to regard a genre not as an archetype of abstracted qualities but, as these compendiums suggest, as something embodied by exemplars? Insofar as categories are organized by intertextual references, what is the relationship between lei and the work of allusion? What are the criteria and ramifications for determining the operative scope of allusions—are ‘contiguous’ but elided passages also in play? What is the family resemblance between leishu and commentaries like that of Li Shan for the Wenxuan anthology that do not so much give glosses as draw intertextual relationships? In what ways do lei furnish genealogies for things? What are the limits of ‘close reading’ on one hand and sprawling ‘intertextuality’ on the other?

East Asian GR8883 Middle Period, Chinese History: Song Dynasty. Robert P. Hymes. W 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
Prerequisites: Chinese-History G4815-G4816 or the equivalent. Selected problems and controversies in the social and political history of the Sung dynasty, approached through reading and discussion of significant secondary research in English.

English and Comparative Literature

CLEN GU4021 Medieval Cultures of the Book. Christopher Baswell. TR 6:10-7:25pm. Location TBA.
In this course, we will attempt to re-conceive and re-embed some literary (and other) “texts” of the Middle Ages, most of them editorially created in the 19th and 20th centuries, within their original sites in the physical culture of the past: that is, in manuscripts and early printed editions, and in the settings of cultural creation and consumption those codices intimately reflect.  Studying individual manuscripts in New York collections (especially Columbia University), in facsimile, and on-line, our investigations will move in two main directions. First, we will learn about some of the major arenas of book production across the high and later Middle Ages—the kind of manuscripts through which most people, most often, encountered the written word. Second, those dominant modes of book culture will provide contexts for investigating manuscripts of what has become the canon of Middle English. Please see the full course description for more information.

ENGL GR6028 Early Ecopoetics. Eleanor Johnson. R 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
(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 GU4103 English Literature 1500-1600. Alan Stewart. MW 8:40-9:55am. Location TBA.
(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 GU4702 Tudor-Stuart Drama. Jean Howard. TR 4:10-5:25pm. Location TBA.
(Lecture). This course investigates plays that treat historical themes as well as theories of historical and documentary drama. We will consider each playwright’s sources and techniques, the historical conditions of each play’s first production, and the play’s reception history. We will also consider certain suggestive resonances between the disciplines of theatre and history. Plays by Aeschylus, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Ford, Schiller, Goethe, Büchner, Shaw, Brecht, Weiss, Churchill, Parks, and others.

ENGL GR6129 Writing Lives in Early Modern England. Alan Stewart. T 8:10am-10am. Location TBA.
(Seminar). This seminar explores the ways in which Englishmen and women made sense of their lives in writing, in the period 1500-1700. We will investigate the genres that we now term “biography” and “autobiography,” but which in early modern periods were inchoate, experimental forms. The course will be particularly interested in examining how, when, and why early modern life-writers wrote; how the writing of others’ lives (biography) may have influenced how one wrote one’s own life (autobiography); the impact of religious doctrines on a sense of one’s own life, and on modes of self-writing; the relationship between clearly autobiographical forms (the diary, the journal, the life-story) and other forms of writing (the account-book, the printed almanac, and so on). We will explore the impact of major social, political and religious changes (notably the English Reformation and the Civil Wars, Interregnum, and Restoration) on life-writing of various kinds. The writers studied range from the well-known (Samuel Pepys, Izaak Walton, John Aubrey) to the more obscure, with particular attention paid to non-elite and women writers.


French & Romance Philology

FREN GU4301 French Literature of the 17th Century. Pierre Force. W 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.



HIST BC1062 Introduction to the Later Middle Ages. Joel Kaye. TR 11:40am-12:55pm. Location TBA.
Professor Kaye has opened a graduate section for this course. Please contact Professor Kaye at for more detailed registration information.

HIST: East Asian GR6009 Colloquium on Early Modern Japan: Constructing Japanese Masculinity. Gregory Pflugfelder. M 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
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.

HIST GR6998 Laws of War in the Middle Ages (graduate student section). Adam Kosto. MW 10:10-11:25am. Location TBA.

HIST GR8176 Colloquium in Atlantic History. Christopher Brown. T 12:10-2pm. Location TBA.
This colloquium provides an intensive exploration of the Atlantic World during the early modern era.  Readings will attend to the sequence of contact, conquest, and dispossession that enabled the several European empires to gain political and economic power.  In this regard, particular attention will be given to the role of commerce and merchant capitalism in the formation of the Atlantic World.  The course will focus also, however, on the dynamics of cultural exchange, on the two-way influences that pushed the varied peoples living along the Atlantic to develop new practices, new customs, and new tastes.  Creative adaptations in the face of rapid social and cultural change will figure prominently in the readings.  Students may expect to give sustained attention the worlds Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans both made together and made apart.

HIST GR8906 Craft & Science: Objects and Making the Early Modern. Pamela Smith. M 10:10am-2pm. Chandler 260.
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 GR8073 Medieval Religious Orders. Neslihan Senocak. R 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
This course will focus on the historical study of the religious orders and communities of the Middle Ages. Alongside of the papally approved religious Orders, the course will include also religious communities that did not officially become an Order but nevertheless shared a common religious faith and practice, such as the beguines, or the lesser known mendicant orders. The course will follow a roughly chronological order, starting with the Benedictine Order, and ending with the beguines and Waldensians. Generally, each session will concentrate on a single order, take into account both men and women’s monasteries and convents. The rules as the founding texts of the orders will be given special consideration, and other aspects governing the life of the members of these Orders such as the liturgy, prayer, charitable acts, child oblation, endowments, financial sustenance and learning will be explored in depth. A concluding session will attempt to understand the place of religious orders in the medieval world at large.


ITAL GU4009 Development of Italian Language. Jo Ann Cavallo. M 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
The external history and internal development of the Italian language from its origins to the present.

ITAL GU4050 Medieval Lyric. Teodolinda Barolini. T 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
This course maps the origins of the Italian lyric, starting in Sicily and following its development in Tuscany, in the poets of the dolce stil nuovo and ultimately, Dante. Lectures in English; text in Italian, although comparative literature students who can follow with the help of translations are welcome.

ITAL GU4097 Boccaccio’s Decameron. Teodolinda Barolini. R 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
While focusing on the Decameron, this course follows the arc of Boccaccio’s career from the Ninfale Fiesolano, through the Decameron, and concluding with the Corbaccio, using the treatment of women as the connective thread. The Decameron is read in the light of its cultural density and contextualized in terms of its antecedents, both classical and vernacular, and of its intertexts, especially Dante’s Commedia, with particular attention to Boccaccio’s masterful exploitation of narrative as a means for undercutting all absolute certainty. Lectures in English; text in Italian, although comparative literature students who can follow with the help of translations are welcome.


Latin American & Iberian Cultures

SPAN GR6333 East/West Frametale Narratives. Patricia Grieve. W 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
Frametale narratives, the art of inserting stories within stories, in oral and written forms, originated in East and South Asia centuries ago; tales familiar to Europe, often called novellas, can trace their development from oral tales to transmitted Sanskrit and Pahlavi tales, as well as Arabic and Hebrew stories. Both Muslim Spain and Christian Spain served as the nexus between the East and Europe in the journey of translation and the creation of new works. Through readings and films, and employing the theoretical concepts of Homi Bhabha (liminality, hybridity, third space) and Etienne Balibar (frontiers and the nation), as well as selected readings of Fernand Braudel and others on the Mediterranean world, the course examines the structure, meaning, and function of ancient, medieval, and early modern frametale narratives, using as theoretical frame in three ways: 1) Theory and practice of frames. Frames are not neutral; they can be narrative seductions, guiding and even strongly manipulating how we read the stories that follow; they can be used to reflect the intersections of orality and literacy. In order to understand their enduring power, we also explore the idea of literary frames through some contemporary films. 2) The exploration in their cultural contexts of topics such as the literary figures of the anti-hero and the trickster, precursors to the picaresque, women in the courtroom, the conflict of chance and human agency, monstrous births as political prophecy, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish relations in medieval and early modern Mediterranean cultures, the sexual frankness of the novella form, and gender politics. 3) How are narratives formed? The course traces the development of the short tale/novella from its ancient Asian origins through the seventeenth century, when Cervantes’ literary experiments gave new life to the novella form, and the Spanish writer María de Zayas challenged Cervantes’ views on love and marriage in her own highly regarded collections of novellas; we move to the present with the study of three contemporary films. But before they became complex and entertaining narratives, many of the well known tales had their “bare bones” origins in joke books, laws and legal theories, conduct manuals, collections of aphorisms and other wise and pithy sayings, misogynist non-fiction writings, and Biblical stories. Although the works are available in English translations, lectures will refer to meanings in both English and the original languages

SPAN GR6472 Theories of Universalism. Seth Kimmel. R 1:10-3:55pm. Location TBA.
The goal not only of knowing all that there is to know, but also of organizing and representing such universal knowledge in books, maps, archives and other forms may seem foolhardy, even in our digital age. Yet even for those of us who are only too aware of our lack of knowledge, this dream of comprehensiveness nevertheless tends to inform our scholarly methods and structure our presuppositions about how people, capital, and information move and interact in a globalized world. Fields like world history, world literature, digital humanities, and global studies are attempts to make sense of this interconnectivity at a sufficiently broad scale. Religious, legal, and political claims to universality may blunt or buttress the force of the market’s ubiquity and the flattening power of linguistic and cultural imperialism. These various sorts of universalism may at first glance seem unique to the contemporary moment, but, as we will see in this class, they are not. Focusing on that crucial period around the turn of the sixteenth century, when the emergence of print and the rise of global exploration rendered claims to comprehensive knowledge and power both newly relevant and patently inadequate, this class examines the relationship between early and late modern theories of universalism.

Readings and visual materials by Hernando Colón, Konrad Gessner, St. Isidore, Pedro Mexía, Sebastian Münster, Antonio de Nebrija, Juan Páez de Castro, Alonso de Palencia, and Ptolemy, as well as scholarship by Alain Badiou, Ann Blair, Fernando Bouza Álvarez, David Damrosch, Umberto Eco, and others. This course will be conducted in English, Spanish, or a mixture of both, depending upon the preferences of the students who register.

Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies

Middle East GU4721 Epics & Empires. Hamid Dabashi. T 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
The purpose of this course is an examination of the genre of epic and its narrative connection to empire-building.  The primary text that will be used in this critical examination is the Persian epic poem Shahnameh, composed by Abolqasem Ferdowsi circa 1000 CE.

Middle East GU4232 Arabic Literary Heritage. Muhsin Al-Musawi. W 2:10-4pm. Location TBA.
Prerequisites: one semester of fourth-year Arabic, or demonstrate equivalent competence. The sessions for this course cover a number of excerpts from texts that are systematically arranged to enable close reading and further discussion and analysis that lead to an active engagement with Arab literary [cultural] tradition. There are samples from pre-Islamic poetry, including that of the Renegades and the Ravens, the Maqamat, al-Jahiz’s oeuvre [selections from a number of books and epistles], Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi’s writings, prose by ibn Wahb on use and misuse of language, epistles by prominent epistolographers, Hikayat Abi al-Qasim by al-Azdi, selections from al-Bayhaqi, and the Thousand and One Nights. There are excerpts from the middle and premodern period, along with specific selections of commentaries of pertinence to the rise or devaluation of genres, modes, and practices. We address cases in which language is the contested space. The theoretical framework takes language as the dynamic force and also the battlefield through our reading of the movement of the word from transparency [where no distance exists between signifiers and signified], representation, and discourse. Every epistemic shift has its ideological base which we need to detect.   The underlying premise is that through close reading and discussion we can draw a genealogy of generic growth or decay in terms of historical, geographical, and religio-political dynamics. The class involves reading, discussion, and written assignments in both Arabic and English.

Middle East GR6210 Readings in Classical Arabic I. George A. Saliba. W 4:10-6pm. Location TBA.
Readings and analysis of texts, with discussion of the nature and development of the genres within the context of Islamic thought. One genre is dealt with each term.