Archive of past Med-Ren courses at Columbia

Updated 4/22/2015

Spring 2015

Art History and Archaeology

AHIS G4142 Mediterranean “East”-“West” Interactions: An Introduction    T 6:10-8pm, 934 Schermerhorn   A. Shalem
The constant contacts, in peace and war times, between the Latin West and the world of Islam, especially during the Middle Ages, formed and shaped the identities of both Christian and Muslim worlds. Moreover, these cultural clashes and artistic exchanges seemed on the one hand to consolidate identities and maintain barriers of differences but on the other hand to contribute to dynamic aesthetic conversations, enriching the visual cultures of both. In several moments in history, which, sometimes, can hardly be defined as convivencia, a new amalgamated aesthetic language was born. Trade with luxury goods and even the sack of works of art ‘sponsored’ and enhances visual dialogues between different religious cultures of the Mediterranean. In this seminar the routes and the ‘ambassadors’ of these exchange moments are discerned. The Mediterranean basin (between 800 to 1500 AD) is in focus. The mobile world around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – from the far west district of al-Andalus and the city of Cordoba to the near Eastern metropolises of Cairo and Damascus – will be highlighted. Port cities such as Salerno, Amalfi, Genua, Mahdiyya, Venice, Palermo and Acre will be jointly discussed in order to draw a full and complete picture of the particular medieval art, which developed across the Mediterranean basin.

AHIS G4330 Paris in the Middle Ages    R 2:10-4pm, 934 Schermerhorn   S. Murray
The urban fabric of Paris provides the connective tissue linking medieval achievements in architecture, sculpture, and painting with the history of the city from the Romans to the Renaissance.

AHIS G6125 Painting in the Song Dynasty    T 9:10-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn    R. Harrist
The goals of this course are to study major works of painting from the Song dynasty (960-1279) and to master art historical and sinological methods that can be used for research in any field of Chinese art. Among the topics that will receive special attention are the rise of landscape painting, imperial patronage, urban life and painting, the art of scholar-officials, and the relationship between words and images, especially during the Southern Song period.

AHIS G8221 Art and Diplomacy: Gifts and Gift-Giving from Late Antiquity to the Early Renaissance    M 2:10-4pm, 930 Schermerhorn    H. Klein
Silk textiles, luxury objects made from precious metals, stones, or ivory, and even Christian relics and reliquaries feature prominently in surviving lists of goods exchanged between foreign courts and rulers as part of the diplomatic process. Precious books, carved gems, and objects of fine metalwork are likewise attested as gifts exchanged between members of aristocratic families as well as potentates and ecclesiastical communities to serve as tokens of allegiance or familial bonds, pious votives, or exquisite offerings that aimed to secure a person or a family’s earthly memory and heavenly afterlife. Building on a rich body of art historical, anthropological, and sociological literature, this graduate seminar explores the culture of gifts and gift-giving and its intersection with familial and dynastic politics from late antiquity to the early modern period. A number of canonical texts and prominent artifacts will help to illuminate the role and function of artistic products in a complex system of value and valuation that defined and structured the interaction between individuals and groups in a shared ‘culture of objects’ that stretched from the Eastern Mediterranean to the fringes of Western Europe. Please note that the number of participants in this seminar is restricted to 10 to facilitate a more immediate approach to the study of objects and allow for a number of site visits to museum collections in New York City.

AHIS G8525 Laughter and Renaissance Images     R 2:10-4pm, 832 Schermerhorn    D. Bodart
Laughter escapes all sorts of uniform classification, as literary studies have taught us, and during the Renaissance one used to laugh with images in many different ways. The seminar will focus not only on the representation of laughter, but also on the modalities of laughter used in images in 15th-16th century Europe. A special attention will be devoted to the comical language of images, with its witticisms, inversions, and parodic inventions: the distinctive structures and a specific vocabulary for pictorial syntax will be investigated in relation with the language of comic theatre, burlesque literature, carnival culture and farce. Examining the various forms of laughter produced by images, whether they concern ‘vulgar laughter’ or ‘erudite laughter’ or contaminations of the two, the seminar intends to develop a preliminary taxonomy of laughter in Renaissance visual art. Students are required to read at least one of the following foreign languages: French Italian, Spanish or German.

AHIS G8916 Meyer Schapiro and the Practice of Art History   M 9-10:50, 934 Schermerhorn   R. Harrist

The goal of this graduate seminar will be to systematically read Meyer Schapiro’s most important works, which remain vital to the historiography of many field of art history, theory, and criticism. One of the few offerings in the department’s graduate curriculum that will cut across fields of specialization, the seminar will be organized around a series of presentations by member of the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology from a wide range of fields. Students also will make extensive use of the Schapiro Collection in the division of Rare Books and Manuscripts in Butler Library which encompasses over 600 boxes of Schapiro’s notebooks, research materials, unpublished essays, and works of art by Schapiro, who was a gifted draftsman and painter.


 LATN W4152 Section 001  Medieval Latin Literature: Renaissance   TR 2:40pm – 3:55pm  Carmela Franklin 3pts

Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission. A survey of early medieval biblical hermeneutics from the patristic age to Bede. The course will include both the theory of biblical interpretation (and especially its relation to classical grammar and rhetoric and to the debate about translation), as well as its literary practice. Readings from the works of Augustine, Jerome, Bede, Avitus, Proba, and others.

English and Comparative Literature

CLEN G6707   Magic, Carnival, Sacrament, Theater,   TR 10:10A-11:25A,  Instructor:  Julie Peters.  3 points.  Lecture

Spectacle, make-believe, and other forms of alternative reality in the European Renaissance. This course will look at drama, theatre, and the cultures of spectacle in Renaissance, baroque, and neoclassical Europe (Italy, Germany, Spain, England, and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), situating English Renaissance drama in the wider European context. While looking at European drama’s enactment of the tropes of altered reality (“life is a dream,” “all the world’s a stage,” “acting is believing”), we will also attend to the ways in which street performance, machinery, technologies of the human body, and the Renaissance sensorium generally (music, light, movement) coalesce into the spectacular illusionism of Renaissance performance. We will explore theatre as magical and spiritual practice; carnival, charivari, and everyday cross-dressing, beggary, prostitution, and other street improvisations; court masque, imperial pageant, and public torture as disciplinary technique; sacrament, conversion, and other forms of illusionism and self-transformation. Texts include films, visual images, theatrical documents, festival books, commedia dell’arte scenarios, and plays by Shakespeare’s greatest near-contemporaries.

ENGL W4130  Literature to 1550,   TR 10:10-11:25AM    Instructor:  Eleanor Johnson.  3 points.  Lecture

A survey of early British writing in its cultural contexts. The course begins with Anglo-Saxon poetry, traces the changes brought to Britain by the Norman Conquest, focuses on the literature of aristocratic courts in the later Middle Ages, and ends as Caxton sets up London’s first printing press. We will read Anglo-Saxon works in translation and most Middle English works in their original language. The syllabus will include Beowulf, the Lais of Marie de France, The Book of Beasts, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.

ENGL G6002   Troilus and Criseyde and its Neighbors,   M 10:10AM-12:00PM   Instructor:  Christopher Baswell

ENGL G6129   Writing Lives in Early Modern England,   W 9:00A-12:00P   Instructor: Alan Stewart.  4 points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission (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.

ENGL G6199   Early Modern Literature: Writing London,   M 2:10P-4:00P   Instructor:  Jean Howard.  4 points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar). This seminar examines the many ways in which London was put into print by early modern writers including dramatists, chorographers, poets and historians. We will look at how various genres and textual forms offered different possibilities for interpreting urban life, and at the way changing demographic, spatial and economic practices made themselves felt in literary representations. Among the questions we will ask are the following: What do we think we know about early modern London in terms of the built environment, demographics, political and economic structures? How do literary texts contribute to knowledge about early modern London? How do they represent and divide urban space? How do they suggest urbanization changed notions of status, gender, and sexuality in the early modern city? How do they represent conflict (religious, political, economic) within urban life amd register the ills of city living: pollution, debt, overcrowding, disease, disruption of communal and family structures? To what extent do they represent utopian dimensions of the urban space?


HIST BC4062  Medieval Economic Life & Thought,  T 4:10P-6:00P,   Instructor: Joel Kaye      Points: 4  SEMINAR

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15. Preregistration required. Traces the development of economic enterprises and techniques in their cultural context: agricultural markets, industry, commercial partnerships, credit, large-scale banking, insurance, and merchant culture. Examines usury and just price theory, the scholastic analysis of price and value, and the recognition of the market as a self-regulating system, centuries before Adam Smith.

HIST W4083 – Crime and Punishment in the Middle Ages, R 2:10-4    Instructor:  Neslihan Senocak   Points: 4   SEMINAR

Crime and its control continues to be a challenging issue for modern states despite all the high-tech forensic aid. Fewer crimes go unpunished compared to the Middle Ages, but the battle to lower the crime rates, and to curb violence is still as fierce as it was in medieval Europe. This course is primarily designed to examine critically what the medieval people considered crime, why, who tended to commit these crimes,  and what worked well and what did not in their system of criminal justice. The study of medieval crime records and criminal law presents a great opportunity for the study of the lives and minds of people from various social classes, their contemporary moral and cultural values, and the solutions they have invented to the universal problems associated with creating and maintaining an order in the society. Class discussions will encourage comparisons between the modern and medieval aspects of criminal justice.  NOTE: APPLICATION REQUIRED

HIST W4155    Christian Missions in the Early Modern World,   R 11:00A-12:50P    Instructor: Bronwen McShea.   Points: 4   SEMINAR

This course follows the spread and transformation of Christianity by Western missionaries in American, African, and Asian settings, from the late fifteenth through early nineteenth centuries. We examine what missionaries preached and urged others to believe and practice, and also what motivated missionaries, mission converts, and those who resisted proselytization. We also examine missions as sites of intercultural and colonial encounters with long-term impacts on politics, wars, and social dynamics.

HIST W4645  Jews and Early Modern Europe, F 9:00am-10:50am  E. Carlebach.  4 Points. Seminar.

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission is required.  A seminar on the historical, political, and cultural developments in the Jewish communities of early-modern Western Europe (1492-1789) with particular emphasis on the transition from medieval to modern patterns. We will study the resettlement of Jews in Western Europe, Jews in the Reformation-era German lands, Italian Jews during the late Renaissance, the rise of Kabbalah, and the beginnings of the quest for civil Emancipation. Field(s): JWS/EME

HIST G8100, The Medieval Mediterranean,  2:10-4:00 Instructor: Adam Kosto     Points: 4         Colloquium

This colloquium examines the problem of the integrated study of Mediterranean societies and institutions in the pre-modern period through readings in recent scholarship and select primary sources.  We will focus on themes and places that seem to best lend themselves to such an integrated approach. The course is designed for graduate students in medieval history and others preparing for original research or oral examinations fields on Mediterranean subjects.  Participants should be prepared to read works in either French or another Romance language; Latin and German will also be helpful.

HIST G8368  EARLY MODERN BRITISH HIST,   R 09:00A-10:50  Instructor: Christopher BROWN,  Points: 4  SEMINAR

HIST G8906, Craft and Science: Objects and Their Making in the Early Modern World    Instructor: Pamela Smith  Points: 4  COLLOQUIA  M 9-12:50;  place Chandler 260-262

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 Columbia Center for Science and Society.  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.

HSEA G8883 Topics in Middle-Period Chinese History   W 4:10-‐6   Hymes   Points: 4 COLLOQUIUM

Prerequisite: G4815-4816 or the equivalent. Selected problems and controversies in the social, cultural, and political history of the Sung dynasty, approached through reading and discussion of significant secondary research in English.


ITAL G4098 Italian Renaissance Epic II 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.

ITAL G4020 Renaissance Italy and the Ottoman Empire  W 2:10pm-4:00pm Instructor: Pier Mattia Tommasino Points: 3  LECTURE
The main focus of this seminar is the analysis and the discussion of a specific Renaissance literary genre.  The turcica were texts on the Turks and the Ottoman Empire written approximately between the Conquest of Constantinople (1453) and the battle of Vienna (1683).  The genre includes military reports, histories, and genealogies of the Ottoman empire, ethnographic accounts and polemical pamphlets.  Through an in-depth analysis of primary source, we will discuss the role of the Ottoman Empire in the self-definition of European identity, with a particular interest in the Italian historians and orientalists.  PDFs or photocopies of the texts will be distributed one week before each class meeting so that students may prepare them for discussion.

Latin American and Iberian Cultures

Spanish G6343 Theory of the Arts in the Iberian Worlds  1:10pm-3:55pm Alessandra Russo 4 Points
A research seminar on the unexpected theories of the arts born in the context of —and in tension with— the Iberian expansion (1400-1600). This course aims to reposition these reflections within the Renaissance and Baroque debates concerning creation, image production, individuality, nobility/liberality of the arts, etc., while investigating the Early Modern geopolitical atlas that these artistic theories reveal. In recent decades scholars have focused their attention on a precise aspect of the Iberian expansion between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries: the vast circulation of overseas objects as “goods,” with the consequent enrichment of the European collections, the birth of the Wonder Cabinets etc. Beyond these physical movements of new items, from Peru, Brazil, India, New Spain, Sierra Leone, or the Philippines, however, another parallel and equally significant process took place: the production and circulation of texts documenting, describing and analyzing the diversity of these creations, the qualitative exceptionality of their creators ́ abilities, their mythologies, their material specificities, and their possible aesthetic, theological, or political links as well as their key role in the Iberian domination process itself. These two movements between texts and images are intimately intertwined: as more items were being produced overseas, more texts were being devoted to their existence and production; then as more texts were being written, published, and read, more objects were being desired, commissioned, invented, and shipped. The seminar will explore the variety of these sources -­‐variety of genres (chronicles, histories, inventories, grammars, dictionaries, legal or inquisitorial processes), variety of authorships (conquistadors, missionaries, ambassadors, travelers, visitadores, cronistas, naturalists, historians, collectors, artists) etc.-­‐ in order to examine the relationship between textual and visual production in Early Modernity. The study of these unexpected “theories of the arts” will be continuously accompanied with the discussion of the actual artifacts commented in the sources. We will also consider if there are local specificities in the production of such texts: for instance, is the impressive amount of sources exclusively related to the “American” (New Spain, Brazil, Perú…) artistic processes understandable within a broader Iberian perspective or is there something specific in the observation and examination of the “American” aesthetics?

Spanish G6535 The New Poetry T 1:10pm-3:55pm Seth Kimmel 4 Points SEMINAR
This seminar has two principal goals. First, it provides a graduate-level introduction to the Spanish Renaissance and “Golden Age,” always within a comparative and transnational frame. Second, it explores of the politics, aesthetics, and institutionalization of lyric poetry, with a particular focus on the sonnet. My hope is that students of poetry produced in a variety of times and places will find early modern technologies of publication, modes of commentary, and debates about form to be useful tools for historicizing the conventions of their own critical crafts.  What was lyric poetry’s social, political, and economic role in early modern Europe? How was the gendered rhetoric of unrequited love imported from Italy and then transformed in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Spanish, as well as Portuguese, French, and English? Why were the works of some early adopters of this “new poetry,” such as Garcilaso de la Vega, for instance, re-edited and glossed so many times by subsequent generations of scholars? What is the relationship between these early modern scholars’ strategies of commentary and edition, on the one hand, and contemporary critical methods and pedagogical practices, on the other hand?  In order to answer these and related questions, this class focuses on one particular poetic form: the sonnet. But we will subject our sonnets to diverse interpretative approaches, honed in both early and late modernity. And we will follow these sonnets as they travel across linguistic and imperial boundaries. This seminar is thus both an experiment in how and why to read poetry and a graduate-level introduction to Renaissance aesthetics and cultural history. Readings include works by late medieval and early modern authors such as Juan Boscán, Garcilaso de la Vega, Fernando de Herrera, Luis de León, Francisco de Quevedo, Alonso López Pinciano, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Francesco Petrarca, Gaspara Stampa, Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay, Luis de Camões, Philip Sidney, and others. We will also read scholarship by Theodor Adorno, Roland Greene, John Freccero, Francisco Rico, Richard Helgerson, Nancy Vickers, Alberto Porqueras Mayo, Susan Stewart, Jonathan Culler, and others.


Music G8102, Seminar in Historical Musicology: The Middle Ages    F 11:00-1:00   Instructor: Susan Boynton   Points: 3 SEMINAR  Chang Room, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
This seminar will provide an introduction to medieval Western chant and liturgy and a practical initiation into the study of medieval liturgical manuscripts. Each week, we will consult medieval manuscripts at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Students will learn the major research questions and methods and apply them to the description of liturgical fragments and codices in the Columbia collection. Research, analysis, and description using digital tools, and the creation of digital exhibits, will comprise a significant portion of the seminar’s work.


PHIL G9670,  Topics in Early Modern Philosophy – Radical Rationalism,  Wednesday 2:10-4,   Christia Mercer,   716 Philosophy Hall,   3 points 

This seminar has two main goals: to offer an overview of the philosophy of the English Platonist, Anne Conway (1631-79), and reconsider the centrality of rationalism in the seventeenth century. It is my contention that “great rationalist system-builders” like Descartes and Leibniz are no such thing. We will explore the philosophical goals and methodologies of Descartes and Leibniz and, along the way, discuss contributions that late medieval and early modern women made to the development of early modern philosophy. Having set the context for Conway’s philosophy, we will explore its affective rationalist approach to knowledge and the vitalist metaphysics that underlies it.

In other words, there is no such thing as early modern rationalism and this is a seminar about it.


REL V3130  The Papacy: Origins to the Sixteenth-Century Reformation     TR 4:10-5:25   Instructor: Robert Somerville
This is a one-semester lecture course offering a historical introduction to the papacy, moving from papal origins through the age of the institution’s greatest influence, i.e., the Middle Ages, down to the age of the sixteenth-century Reformation. Reading assignments will be drawn from both primary and secondary sources in English.


Fall 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.

Spring 2014

Art History

AHIS G4385: Renaissance Architecture History and Theory, W: 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor: Francesco Benelli

A survey of Renaissance Architecture in Italy through its buildings and its theory, from Brunelleschi to Palladio and the influence to other European country.

AHIS G8012: Vitruvius and His Legacy, W: 10:10-12:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Francesco Benelli

This seminar focuses on the origin of early modern theory of architecture and its first development during the Renaissance, from the work of Leon Battista Alberti (c. mid fifteenth century) to Vincenzo Scamozzi (Venice 1615). The goal of the seminar is to provide knowledge of Renaissance theory of architecture through an upclose reading of the treatises. The first part of every session will be devoted to the analysis of the book intended as an object, the second part will focus on its contents and the way they have influenced the theory and the actual built architecture of their time. A field trip to Beineke Library at Yale University is planned during the semester in order to analyze directly an original XVI century copy of Francesco di Giorgio Martini’s Treatise.

AHIS G8156: From Greek Antiquity to Byzantium, M: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Holger Klein and Ioannis Mylonopoulos

In ancient Egypt, temples and rituals were often addressed as the symbolic point of conjunction between sacred space and sacred time. Egyptian temple architecture and its sculptural decoration offer a visually enhanced reflection of ritual reality. On the contrary, Greek and Roman sacred architecture cannot be described as some kind of built theology or allegory in stone. Although temples appear to be one of the most important signifiers of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, cult practices were never truly dependent on the presence of a built temple. Thus, if architecture were to be understood as a secondary parameter for the definition of sacred space, the question arises as to how exactly a religiously used spatial frame was demarcated in Greco-Roman antiquity. The advent and subsequent spread of Christianity from humble beginnings in Syria-Palestine to omnipresence and dominance in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean brought with it significant changes not only in the attitudes towards the divine but also in the conceptualization of sacred space. The establishment of the Christian basilica as a standard building type for religious ceremonies resulted in new strategies for the display and experience of the divine presence on earth. The rise of the cult of relics during the fourth century prompted patrons and architects to work out the relationship between holy matter and its presentation within the church proper. Amongst others, the seminar will address questions regarding the architecturally and ritually defined space, the dynamic relations between image, architecture, and space, the interconnections between imaginary and physically experienced space, the religiously motivated transformations of space, and finally the political as well as social uses and abuses of sacred space.

AHIS G8194: Islamic Figurative Sculpture: Intro, T: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3   Instructors: Avinoam Shalem and Barry F. Flood (NYU)

The idea that the arts of the Islamic world are predominantly aniconic in nature has attracted sustained criticism in modern scholarship. In addition to addressing the existence of figurative imagery on ceramics, glass, metalwork, and textiles, scholarship on the arts of the book has produced a wealth of new material indicating that attitudes to figuration in the pre- and early modern Islamic world were more complex and varied than sometimes acknowledged. The arts of the Islamic world were, in fact, remarkably rich in examples of both relief and free-standing sculpture, ranging in scale from the miniature to the monumental, and produced in media ranging from stucco or stone to ceramics, metal, rock crystal and even ephemeral materials such as ambergris, ice and sugar. This seminar will survey the evidence for the production, reception and reuse of three-dimensional and relief figurative sculpture in the Islamic Mediterranean and Near East in the medieval and early modern periods.

AHIS G8474: 15th C. Art in the Netherlands, R: 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: David Freedberg

This course, often taught under the rubrics of “Early Netherlandish Painting” or even “Northern Renaissance Painting” might also be described as “Art in the Age of Van Eyck” or “Painting from Van Eyck to Bosch”.   It will begin with manuscripts, and deal with the contribution of great sculptors like Sluter as well.    The claim implicit in the title is that the techniques pioneered and perfected by the Van Eycks affected all the other arts too –  even though the most original and compelling achievements of the century are probably those of painting, which will form the chief focus of this class.  Attention will also be paid to the social and historical contexts of the main works discussed.    Several museum visits will be included.

AHIS G8709: The Time of Art’s History, T: 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Patricio Keith Moxey

Time lies at the heart of art history, yet is rarely subject to scrutiny. Recent developments—an awareness that non-western cultures abide by forms of time that fail to coincide with those with which we are familiar and the widespread difficulty of defining “the contemporary”—suggest that art history’s temporal structure has never been stable. We will consider ideas of historical time offered by leading art historians as well as the paradoxes and contradictions of current approaches to the issue of temporality.


LATN W4125: The Bible and the Fathers, TR: 2:40-3:55pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Carmela Franklin

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.  The Fathers and the Bible. A survey of early medieval biblical hermeneutics from the patristic age to Bede. The course will include  both the theory of biblical interpretation (and especially its relation to classical grammar and rhetoric and to the debate about translation), as well as its literary practice. Readings from the works of Augustine, Jerome, Bede, Avitus, Proba, and others.

English & Comp. Lit

ENCS W4009: Ancient Narrative, TR 11:40-12:55pm
Points: 3    Instructor: Richard Sacks (seminar)

A close-reading-based examination of five of the foundational ancient narratives of the western tradition: the Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Genesis and Gospel of John, with a focus both on the narrative artistry of these works and also on the ways in which these texts interact with — and fundamentally challenge — their traditions. Tentative syllabus available at: or via Professor Sacks’ homepage (

CLENW4021: Medieval Romance, TR: 10:10am-11:25am
Points: 3     Instructor: Susan Crane (Lecture)

Romances are long fictions, among the ancestors of novels, in which young protagonists strive to win love and marry, to display the noble virtues of chivalry and courtliness, and to master other lands while defending their own. From its appearance in the later twelfth century through the end of the Middle Ages, romance was the dominant long narrative genre in western vernaculars. As such, it was an important imaginative space for developing and reconsidering ideologies of identity, justice, conquest, sexuality, faith, history, and more. This course will only begin to introduce the genre’s capacious reach. We will place English romances in their Anglo-Norman and continental French context, emphasizing just a few of their many preoccupations. The texts to be read in the first few weeks concentrate, though not exclusively, on courtship, homoeroticism, and gender definition; those of the next few weeks on chivalric identity, honor, and performance; and those of the last weeks on conquest, the exotic, and the nation.

ENGL W4791: Mysticism and Medieval Drama, TR: 2:40-3:55
Points: 3   Instructor: Eleanor Johnson

This class is designed to interrogate the genre-boundary that has traditionally separated visionary writings from dramatic ones in the study of English medieval literature. Although this separation has long existed in scholarship, it is deeply problematic, and produces an understanding of the relationship between private devotion and publically performed religious ritual that is untenable, and does considerable violence to our understanding of the medieval imagination. As we will see, notionally “private” visionary writings and notionally “public” dramatic writings have a great deal in common, not just in terms of their overt content, but also in terms of their formal construction, their poetic devices, their favorite rhetorical maneuvers, and their articulated relationship with history and English literature. The works we will read this term are all phenomenally strange, many of them extremely difficult because of their unfamiliarity. For this reason, we will divide the semester into three sections: the first will deal with the famous medieval cycle dramas, which narrate events from the New Testament. The second section will transition to examine three important visionary texts that were written between 1370 and 1430, contemporaneous with the efflorescence of dramatic composition and performance in England, and two late Antique visionary texts that inspired them. The final section of class will turn to examine the so-called “morality plays,” which emerge just slightly after the cycle dramas and after the visionary works we will have read. Since all of these works are linguistically challenging, we will work with translations in certain instances (Piers Plowman, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe). For all of the other works, we will be reading in Middle English, but you are welcome to consult translations, online summaries, or anything else that helps you get up to speed on what´s going on in the plays. Bear in mind, however, that your midterm and final will be based on the Middle English texts, so you do need to make a serious effort to read them (except in the case of Piers Plowman, which will be in modern English).

ENGL G6002: Middle English Texts Seminar, M: 10:10-12:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor: Christopher Baswell

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.  (Seminar). Spring course taught by Prof. Baswell. The medieval British Isles encountered and reimagined multiple versions of antiquity: the Trojan past of the ancient Mediterranean, the Roman past of a colonized England, a Germanic past of Anglo-Saxon occupation, a Viking settlement and kingdom in the north, fantasies of Christian conversion in the generation after Christ, other fantasies of colonial resistance under King Arthur. Along with these, historians and poets developed legends of foundation ranging from Trojan descendants to female Syrian husband-slayers to Celtic heroines. This seminar will explore medieval English versions of these antique pasts, as well as their broader setting in ancient and continental medieval stories of disaster and refoundation. While the bulk of texts we read will be in Middle English, at each stage students can explore instead (or in addition) relevant works in the other languages of medieval Britain: Latin, French, or the Celtic tongues. The foundation of nations and dynasties involves movement and transgression: a border crossed, a sea traversed, a territory occupied, a new social order instated, a tyrant deposed by revolution, an enemy conquered, a dynasty or lineage disrupted or generated – the latter, most often, by exogamous marriage. Myths and legends of foundation, often deeply embedded within later historiography, typically encode even more extreme and unnerving versions of transgression. Indeed, narratives of foundation often begin with, but then leave at their beginnings, a whole range of practices that threaten to undo the very culture or empire to which they give rise. The human race, in a dominant Western myth, begins with disobedience to a lord, followed by fratricide. Rome is founded by an Aeneas who fled his burning city and who – according to many versions – also betrayed it, only to be exiled by the victors; in some medieval versions, further, Aeneas is accused of homosexual practices. Especially in England, the models of Troy and Rome were at once points of genealogical origin and yet threatening models of pride and downfall. The most famous of England’s founders, Brutus, has killed his own father, however accidentally; he is nonetheless sent (in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s influential version) into a wandering exile across Greece, then France and Normandy, before reaching his eponymous island, Britain. Geoffrey also connects later Briton kings, Arthur’s ancestors, to the Roman imperial line through marriages during th

CLEN G6032: The Intelligence of Affect, W 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Patricia Dailey (seminar)

This course explores how different kinds of feeling or affective response — like wonder, mourning, longing or boredom — are identified in the Middle Ages as a means for shaping and remedying individual or collective engagement with the world.  Studies of medieval education have often focused on rote responses involved in the learning of grammar, liturgy, or music; this course will look at how literature functions as a central means for educating individuals in the sensory world through less tangible forms of affective, linguistic, and cognitive response.  Drawing on contemporary theories of the political and social nature of aesthetics, and affect, and literature, we will explore how medieval literature speaks to these contemporary terms, shaping diverse communities of readers. Starting with late antique treatments of the relation between pride (Augustine), humility (Gregory), boredom and wonder (Boethius), and philosophical and meditations on affect (Aristotle), we will then turn to medieval literature to examine how each work models specific verbal, cognitive, moral, affective, bodily, and interpretive responses to more than just the text itself, extending the effects of a work to a specific way of envisioning and engaging with the surrounding world.

ENGL G6128: Comparative Renaissance Texts, Erasmus and Humanism, W: 11:00-12:50pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Kathy Eden (seminar)

ENGL G 6229: Literary Artifacts: The Book in History, T 12:10-2pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Karla Nielsen (seminar)

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor  (Seminar) This course will introduce students to methods for interpreting literature through artifacts, including archival materials such as correspondence and typescripts, as well as manuscript codices, broadsides, and printed editions. By examining these materials, and looking at some of arguments that scholars have made using them, we will consider the requirements, challenges, and benefits of artifact-specific analyses. Doing so will demonstrate many of the methodologies used to interpret literary artifacts: paleography, descriptive bibliography, book history, provenance studies, and digital forensics. Imagined as historically wide-ranging course that will move from Hellenistic papyri to electronic literature, the areas of focus can be shifted according to student interest, and to most advantageously draw on the holdings of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library where the class sessions will be held. By the end of the course, students will have a broadly-sketched understanding of important cultural and technological developments and will have read key essays in book history, bibliography, and the sociology of texts. Topics to be considered include classification, copyright, authorship, technological determinism, annotation, spatiality, materiality, genre and format, typography, bookbinding, paratext, artist books, publishing, and censorship. We will read essays from among the following authors: Roger Chartier, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Marshall McLuhan, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Walter Mignolo, Leah Price, William Sherman, G. Thomas Tanselle, Ann Blair, Janice Radway, N. Katherine Hayles, Jerome McGann, Fredson Bowers, D. F. McKenzie, Robert Darnton, Paul Saenger, Gerard Genette, and Johanna Drucker.

Please note: This course fulfills the MA manuscript studies requirement.

ENTA G6725: Past, Present, Future: The History Play from Shakespeare to Tony Kushner,  W 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor: Jean Howard

This course begins with the premise that “the history play” is an incoherent but persistent way to categorize certain kinds of writing for the stage. In the class we will think critically about the term and also about some of the plays that have been or might be included within its scope. Shakespeare’s English history plays are well known exemplars, but do they form the template by which other plays deal with historical matter? What do we do with plays sometimes labeled tragedies and sometimes histories? Can we have tragic and comic history plays? Are histories defined solely by historical content or by persistent formal features? Can something be a history play if it self-consciously engages, not with historical events outside itself, but with the history of theater, as might be the case with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead?  Perhaps more important than these questions of definition and properties is my intent to explore what happens when “history” receives dramatic embodiment. What relations between past, present, and future are set in motion through the performance of historical drama? Are all history plays in some sense about temporality, and how does performance deepen that engagement? And are there particular affects that adhere to the performance of history? Is history drama a site for nostalgia and mourning, for utopian longing, for something else? The plays we will study will be drawn about equally from the early modern and the modern periods. We will certainly take up works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, both obvious works like Henry V and The Famous Victories of Henry V, and less obvious choices like King Lear, in its time labeled both a tragedy and a history; also plays by Ben Jonson, Thomas Heywood, John Dryden; and, in the 20th century, Howard Barker (The Castle), Tom Stoppard (Rock ‘n Roll, The Coast of Utopia, Rosencrantz), Caryl Churchill (Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Seven Jewish Children), and Tony Kushner (Angels in America, Caroline or Change, iHo). Critical and theoretical reading will include Robert Weimann, Walter Benjamin, George Steiner, Elin Diamond, and others. I am going to keep the syllabus in a provisional state until the first class so that I can hear your preferences for what to include beyond a barebones list of about ten plays that will anchor us. This class is not about “coverage” but about the problems of thinking about the history play as a term and as a site for certain kinds of performance possibilities and philosophical engagements.


HIST W4103: Empires & Cultures of the Atlantic World, R: 11:00-12:50pm
Points: 4    Instructor: Bronwen McShea

This course follows historical developments in the Atlantic World-across Western Europe, the Americas, West Africa, and-from the late fifteenth through early nineteenth century. It highlights both the comparative, structural evolutions of European colonial empires and the cultural experiences and perspectives of Atlantic World inhabitants-including soldiers, merchants, slaves, missionaries, and revolutionaries.

HIST W4171: Canon Law and Medieval Christianity, T: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 4   Instructor: Robert Somerville

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission.  An introduction to the importance of Church law for the study of medieval Christianity through readings in both primary and secondary sources (all in English or English translations). Topics will be selected, as the sources permit, to illustrate the evolution of Western canon law and its impact both as a structural and as an ideological force, in medieval Christianity and in medieval society in general.

HIST W4404: Native American History, R: 9:00-10:50am
Points: 4    Instructor: Evan Haefeli

This course introduces students to the forces that transformed the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas into “Indians.” The class takes a very broad approach, moving chronologically and thematically from the dawn of time to the present. The course aims to expose students to the diversity of the Native American experience by including all the inhabitants of the Americas, from Greenland to Tierra del Fuego, within its purview. Group(s): A, D Field(s): *US

HIST W4176: European Merchants in the East, M: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 4    Instructor: Martha Howell

An examination of medieval and early modern European merchants’ entry into the global commercials economy then centered in various Asian markets.  The course begins in the late Middle Ages, when Europe was a minor outposts of the world economy, and ends about 1800, when european merchants, in alliance with national states, were competing to control Asian markets. Field(s): EME

HIST W4645: Jews and Early Modern Europe, Spinoza-Sabbati, M: 11:00-12:50pm
Points: 4    Instructor: Elisheva Carlebach (seminar)

A seminar on the historical, political, and cultural developments in the Jewish communities of early-modern Western Europe (1492-1789) with particular emphasis on the transition from medieval to modern patterns. We will study the resettlement of Jews in Western Europe, Jews in the Reformation-era German lands, Italian Jews during the late Renaissance, the rise of Kabbalah, and the beginnings of the quest for civil Emancipation. Field(s): JWS/EME

HIST G6999, SEC 002: Laws of War in the Middle Ages, MW 2:40-3:55
Points: 4   Instructor: Adam Kosto

The perception and regulation of war and wartime practices in Europe and the Mediterranean World in the period 300-1500, from the standpoint of legal and institutional history rather than of military history. Topics include: the Just War tradition, Holy War and Crusade, the Peace and Truce of God, prisoners and ransom, the law of siege, non-combatants, chivalry, and ambassadors and diplomacy. Readings are principally primary sources in translation. Group(s): A Field(s): MED

HIST G6999, SEC 023: The Worlds of Mughal India, TR 4:10-5:25
Points: 4   Instructor: Manan Ahmed

This course provides a political and social history of India from the 16th-19th century, focusing on the Mughal empire. Two central concerns: first, the Mughal regnal politics towards their rival imperial concerns within India and West Asia (the Maratha, the Rajput, the Safavid, the Ottoman); and second, the foreign gaze onto the Mughals (via the presence of Portuguese, English, and French travelers, merchants, and diplomats in India). These interlocked practices (how Mughals saw the world and how the world saw the Mughals) will allow us develop a nuanced knowledge of universally acknowledged power of the early modern world.


ITAL G4089: Petrarch’s Canzonire, T 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: Teodolinda Barolini

This course elaborates a hermeneutics of Petrarch’s Canzoniere—also called Rime or Rime sparse but properly titled Rerum vulgarium fragmenta (Rvf). Our reading will be grounded in a thorough knowledge of the philology of the Rvf’s composition, with particular attention to the autograph (Vat. Lat. 3195) in which Petrarch transcribed his poems from his draft notebook (Vat. Lat. 3196), and to the reception and editorial history: this most imitated of texts was forced through editorial manipulation to accommodate the desires of its readers for narrative and story-line that Petrarch rigorously rejects. In the context of Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative, we will consider the making of the lyric sequence: Petrarch’s genial invention is a collection of lyrics in which sequential order, and therefore time, is deployed to generate significance. We will bring to bear on our reading other Petrarchan texts (primarily Petrarch’s Secretum, a selection of his letters and his Trionfi) and an intertextual focus relating in particular to Augustine and Dante.

ITAL G4086: Castiglione & the Italian Renaissance, M 2:10pm-4:00pm
Points: 3  Instructor: Jo Ann Cavallo

Latin American and Iberian Cultures

SPAN G6465: Cultures of Discipline, T 1:10pm-3:55pm
Points: 4   Instructor: Seth Kimmel

The word “discipline” designates both a branch of knowledge and the practices that demarcate and duplicate the scholarly and religious communities that produce such knowledge. As myriad early modern educators appreciated, a disciple adopts the conventions of his or her intellectual community by participating in exercises of interpretation and instruction. He or she internalizes those conventions through repetition. Treatises on pedagogy serve as this class’s point of departure for examining other sorts of pastoral, inquisitorial, and aesthetic practices. We will focus on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, paying particular attention to the relationship between culture and control in early modern Spain. But by examining early modern peninsular materials alongside late modern essays on subjectivity and aesthetics, we will also historicize our current constellation of the disciplines and consider the future of interdisciplinary scholarship.


MUSI G4122: Songs of the Troubadours, W 10:10am-12:00pm
Points: 4   Instructor: Susan Boynton

Prerequisites: Music Humanities W1123, Music V3128  This interdisciplinary seminar approaches the songs of the troubadours as poetic and musical traditions. Together we will develop methods for analysis and interpretation, situate the songs within literary and social history, and address broad issues such as the nature of performance, the interplay between orality and writing, the origins of troubadour poetry, fin’amor, and gender. Students will learn to analyze the poetic and musical structure of the songs and to transcribe and edit them from medieval manuscripts. Weekly assignments in Paden’s Introduction to Old Occitan will familiarize students with the language of the texts; one hour a week will be devoted to going over texts in the original language using Paden’s book. Individually designed paper assignments will take students’ backgrounds into account;; students from all departments are welcome.

List updated August 12, 2013

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Courses


Art History

AHIS G4357: Gothic Architecture, R: 2:10pm-4:00pm
Points: 3        Instructor: S. Murray (Lecture)

The course will combine synchronic with diachronic approaches.  Under the former heading comes the historiographic exploration of the way in which the epithet “Gothic” came to be attached to this particular kind of architecture and the way in which a more precise definition of the phenomenon emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  The exploration should embrace the range of approaches and methods appropriate to our own age with its passion for literary criticism.  The diachronic approach will allow us to tell the story of Gothic, looking it as a phenomenon that exists over time and space.  We will return frequently to the question of representation –the problems encountered when buildings and concepts of “style” are carried over into words and images.

AHIS G8333: Cult of Relics In the Middle Ages, M: 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 3        Instructor: H.A. Klein (Seminar)

This graduate seminar explores the Christian cult of relics from Late Antiquity through the late Middle Ages. Given their importance as manifestations of the presence of Christ and his saints on earth, relics were treasured by the Christian faithful, who kept them in precious containers known as reliquaries. If these vessels preserved their sacred contents, the forms and materials used in their construction gave physical expression to the divine nature of the matter they enshrined. It is the goal of this course to investigate the strategies and approaches taken to the preservation and veneration of sacred relics and their artistic presentation in Byzantium and the Medieval West.

Requires Instructor and Dept approval: APPLICATION IS DUE BY AUGUST 1st.

English and Comparative Literature

ENGL W4015x Vernacular Paleography 3 pts.(Lecture). This class is designed to introduce graduate students (and some advanced undergraduates) to the paleography of English vernacular manuscripts written during the period ca. 700 -1500, with brief excursions into Latin and into French as it was written on the Continent. Students interested in a broader introduction to Latin and the national hands of the Continent should also consider taking Dr. Dutschke’s Latin Paleography course, which is planned to be offered in alternate years to Prof. Baswell’s. The purpose of the course is fourfold: (1) to teach students how to make informed judgments with regard to the place and date of origin, (2) to provide instruction and practice in the accurate reading and transcription of medieval scripts, (3) to learn and use the basic vocabulary of the description of scripts, and (4) to examine the manuscript book as a product of the changing society that produced it and, thus, as a primary source for the study of that society and its culture. In order to localize manuscripts in time and place it is necessary to examine aspects of the written page besides the script, such as the material on which it is written, its layout and ruling, the decoration and illustration of the text, the provenance, and binding. It is also necessary to examine the process of manuscript production itself, whether institutional, commercial, or personal. The history of book production and of decoration and illumination are thus considered part of the study of paleography, as is the history of patronage and that of libraries; the German term Handschriftenkunde well describes the subject. Manuscripts are among the most numerous and most reliable surviving witnesses to medieval social and intellectual change, and they will be examined as such.

ENGL W4130: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Lit: Brit Lit to 1500, MW: 2:40pm-3:55pmPoints: 3         Instructor: S. Crane (Lecture)

A survey of early British writing in its cultural contexts. The course begins with Anglo-Saxon poetry, traces the changes brought to Britain by the Norman Conquest, focuses on the literature of aristocratic courts in the later Middle Ages, and ends as Caxton sets up London’s first printing press. We will read Anglo-Saxon works in translation and most Middle English works in their original language. The syllabus will include Beowulf, the Lais of Marie de France, The Book of Beasts, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Malory’s Morte D’Arthur.

ENGL W4210: Writing Early Modern London,MW: 2:40-3:55pm
Points: 3       Instructor: A. Stewart (Lecture)

This course explores the literature that represented, was created for, and was inspired by the city of London in the early modern period.  It will encourage students to analyze the ways in which literature relates to its geographical, social, cultural, religious and political contexts — in this case, the very specific contexts provided by a single city in the period from 1500 to 1700. It will cover such topics as London’s experience in the Reformation; London’s suburban expansion; the Civil War and Restoration; the Great Fire and the subsequent rebuilding; London’s government, and relations with the Crown; social issues including immigration, unrest, the place of women, the place of strangers, the plague and prostitution.  The course will highlight the importance of London as the hub of print publication, and as the site for the public theatre — it will therefore deal predominantly with drama but also draw on prose pamphlets, entries, maps, diaries, prospects and poetic mock-will.

ENGL G6002: Middle English Texts Seminar: Vernacular Theology, R: 6:10pm-8:00pm
Points: 3       Instructor: E. Johnson (Seminar)

(Seminar). In this seminar, we will examine some of the classics of the literary category of “vernacular theology” in Middle English: Richard Rolle’s Form of Living, the anonymous Cloud of Unknowing, Julian of Norwich’s Revelations, and Walter Hilton’s Scale of Perfection. But we will press on the boundaries and logics of that generic category of “vernacular theology” by including other types of literary writing that do vernacular theological work: Piers Plowman, selections from cycle dramas, and the poem Pearl. One goal of this class will be to rethink how we understand “theological” literature, and to interrogate the boundary that notionally separates “fictive” literature from “non-fictive.” Another will be to encourage each student to develop his/her own methodological approach to these sometimes notoriously difficult and rebarbative texts; thus, the readings for the semester will be front-loaded, so that the final third of the semester will allow us each to discuss all the works together, bringing to bear on the works whatever theoretical or methodological approach we have chosen over the course of term.  For this reason, the reading load will be heavy at the outset, but you should come away from the class with a draft of a publishable article.

ENGL G6028: Medieval Literature Seminar, Medieval Animals,  M: 11:00-12:50pm
Points: 3       Instructor: S. Crane (Seminar)

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar). This seminar offers an introduction to basic readings in the field called critical animal studies or human-animal studies, with primary texts from medieval Britain and France, and secondary texts by familiar theorists including Derrida, Foucault, Agamben, Nussbaum, and Haraway together with field-specific founders including Ursula Heise, Vinciane Despret, and Cary Wolfe. Medieval literature offers a rich archive of thought about nonhuman animals, ranging from the high philosophy of Augustine’s commentary on Genesis and Aquinas’s rediscovery of Aristotle, to the many animal miracles in the Life of Saint Cuthbert, the totemic use of animals in heraldry and family genealogies, and the instructions in treatises on how to hunt boar and deer. Many questions still current in animal studies today engaged medieval writers as well. Do humans have ethical responsibilities to animals? What kinds of consciousness do different species have? How did domestication come about? What kinds of working relationships are possible across species lines? What rhetorical resources (metaphoric? anthropomorphic? affective?) come forward when animals are represented, and what are the limitations of rhetoric for translating animal encounters into language?

ENGL G6133: Renaissance Poetry, 17th Century Poetry, W: 6:00-8:00pm
Points: 3       Instructor: M. Murray (Seminar)

This course will focus on a trio of seventeenth-century English poets who represent what used to be called the “metaphysical” school: John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell (with likely guest appearances by Crashaw, Cowley, Traherne, and Vaughan). In doing so, we will combine the philological pleasures of close reading with attention to intellectual and cultural contexts, and will also consider the contentious critical reception of these figures in their time and ours. Topics for discussion will almost certainly include: embodiment (or, if you prefer, “incarnation”), ecclesiology, sex, horticulture, hermaphrodism, metaphor and its discontents, the production and circulation of “coterie” literature, architecture, wit, second infancies, rough meter, grasshoppers, political engagement and disengagement, and nothing.


HIST W4061: Medieval Society, Politics and Ethics,W: 11:00am-12:50pm
Points: 4      Instructor: A. Kosto (Seminar)

Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission is required; preference will be given to majors and concentrators, seniors and juniors. This seminar examines major texts in social and political theory and ethics written in Europe and the Mediterranean region between the fifth and the fifteenth centuries CE.  Students will be assigned background readings to establish historical context, but class discussion will be grounded in close reading and analysis of the medieval sources themselves.

HIST G8932: History and Theory-Western Market Economy, M: 4:10-6:00pm
Points:4     Instructor: M. Howell (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 G9061: Medieval Society and Institutions, M: 11:00am-12:50pm
Points:4     Instructor: A. Kosto (Seminar)

Prerequisite: instructor’s permission. A two-semester research seminar intended to introduce students to the institutional settings (monasteries, universities, etc.) and the genres (sermons, mystical treatises, scholastic quaestiones, etc.) of medieval intellectual history, and to some creative recent scholarly approaches to this material.


ITAL G4050: Medieval Lyric Poetry, T: 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 3       Instructor: T.Barolini (Lecture)

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 G4079: Boccaccio’s Decameron, R: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3       Instructor: T. Barolini (Seminar)

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.

ITAL G6077: Studies in Dante, T: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3      Instructor: T. Barolini

Latin American and Iberian Cultures

SPAN G6148.  Microliteratures and Literacy.  Jesús Rodríguez-Velasco.  T 1:10pm – 3:55pm

(Cross-listed in ICLS as CPLS 86148) Fields and keywords: Iberian Studies; Medieval History and Culture; Comparative Literature and Society; Manuscript Studies; History of the Book; History of Reading; Pre-modern theory (commentary, exegesis, hermeneutics, biblical interpretation, legal interpretation, etc.); Conversion; Translation.

Primary sources: Boethius, Averroes, Maimonides, “Aristoteles Latinus” (Latin translations of the Arabic aristotelian tradition and used in medieval European universities), Dhuoda, Hugh of Saint Victor, Ramon Llull, don Juan Manuel, Juan Ruiz, Peter of Portugal, Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Carlos of Navarra, Alonso de Cartagena, Enrique de Villena Juan de Mena, Joan d’Avinyó, fra Anselm Turmeda, Vicent Ferrer, Christine de Pizan, Teresa de Cartagena, Estefanía de Requesens, Isabel de Villena. *We will read some of the primary sources in their manuscript form; materiality, therefore, will also be a part of the “primary source.” ** All our primary sources exist as well in translation.

Secondary sources (among others): Jacques Derrida (“Plato’s Pharmacy”), Roland Barthes (Leçon), Michel Foucault (On the Government of the Living), Karl Marx (Eighteenth Brumaire), Edgar Allan Poe (Marginalia), Vladimir Nabokov (Pale Fire), John Dagenais (The Ethics of Reading in Manuscript Culture), Daniel Heller-Roazen (Philosophy before the Law), Ivan Illich (In the vineyard of the text), Mary Carruthers (The Book of Memory; The Craft of Thought), David Greetham (Margins), Jonathan Ray (After 1492), Paola Tartakoff (Between Christian and Jew), Tom Burnes (Reading the Qu’ran in Latin Christendom), Julian Weiss (The Poet’s Art), Baruch Spinoza (Tractatus Politicus Theologicus), Henri de Lubac (Medieval Exegesis), Miriam Bedos-Rezak (When Ego was Imago), Roger Chartier (Inscription and Erasure).

General description: In this seminar, we will study the theory and practice of commentary during the Middle Ages. We will examine theological, political, historical, legal, and literary commentaries, as well as more philosophical texts about theories and practices of commenting. We will also focus on the manuscript and its materiality as part of the theory of commentary (production of the margin, interlineal commentary, the manuscript as a site of mediality). We will address an important question – How can the study of medieval theories and practices of commentary contribute to some of our current debates about the humanities and the social sciences, hermeneutics, theology, and politics? In this sense, we will also read our primary sources not as inactive objects from the past, but as active elements of culture that, to paraphrase Marx, “weigh like an Alp on the brains of the living generations.”

SPAN G6509.  Visions from Afar from Nearby.  Alessandra Russo.  M 1:10pm – 3:55pm

Between the 15th and the 17th centuries the expansion projects -and in particular the Iberian ones – stimulated an unprecedented fertile tension between the distant and the close, in geographical, historical and visual terms. Each session of this graduate seminar will be devoted to specific episodes – how to make a Jesuit mapamundi in Beijing (Matteo Ricci)? how to illustrate local plants and fruits in Mexico (Francisco Hernandez) or Goa (García da Orta, Cristovao de Acosta)? how to transform into copper plates the pages of the chronicles describing remote places for an European public (from the India of De Maares to the “Indies” of Las Casas through De Bry or Cornelis Claesz, but also Athanasius Kircher’ China Monumenta)? We will study also a number of textual and visual documents explicitly conceived to cross the ocean (Diego Muñoz Camargo from Tlaxcala, Guaman Poma de Ayala from Lucanas, both authors’ textual and visual works aimed to reach Spain), or the artistic “recipes” written in Spain but then used and reinterpreted by the Andean painters to prepare the colors and paint their canvases. From the Brazilian reframing of landscape or genre painting in Eeckhout’s or Frans Post’s masterpieces, to the display of farness through the objects of a Wunderkammern in Prague, or Naples, we will investigate how between the 15th and 17th centuries, new ways of making both remoteness and proximity visible were used and invented, tools that range from new challenges of ekphrasis to precise optical techniques of capturing.

SPAN 86333 (cross listed as CPLS G6333).  East/West Frametale Narratives.  Patricia Grieve.  W 1:10pm – 4:00pm

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; students who can read the original works in Spanish, Italian, French and/or Latin are encouraged to do so.

Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

MDES G6210: Readings in Classical Arabic I, W: 6:10pm-8:00pm
Points: 3        Instructor: G. Saliba (Colloquia)

Readings and analysis of texts, with discussion of the nature and development of the genres within the context of Islamic thought. One genre covered each term.


MUSI G8101: Historical Musicology-Middle Ages, F:10:00am-12:00pm
Points: 3     Instructor: S. Boynton (Seminar)

Whether sensuous or abstract, angelic or demonic, the idea and experience of music were vividly portrayed in medieval art. This seminar on the meanings of music in medieval visual culture will examine the elusive relationship between sound and image. Some of the topics to be addressed include the symbolic uses of music and musicians in the visual arts; the illustration of music manuscripts (such as the Cantigas de Santa Maria); the role of musical ideas in the construction of images (such as the capitals of the modes from Cluny); the place of acoustics in church design; and visual aspects of medieval soundscapes. We will read the work of medievalists in several disciplines as well as scholarship from other contexts (such as Bonnie Wade’s Imaging Sound). Some class meetings will take place at the Metropolitan Museum and the Cloisters.


PHIL G4095: Medieval Philosophy Hebrew Texts,M: 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor: Z. Harvey

Selected readings in major medieval Hebrew philosophic texts. Works discussed include: Maimonides’ Book of Knowledge, Shemtob Falaquera’s Epistle of the Debate, Gersonides’ War of the Lord, Hasdai Crescas’ Light of the Lord, and joseph Albo’s Book of Principles. Focus will be on basic problems concerning reason and religion; ethics, politics, and law.

PHIL G4170: Medieval Philosophy, T: 10:10am-12:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor Z. Harvey (Lecture)

Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew philosophy from the 4th to the 14th century, including Augustine, Alfarabi, Avicenna, Anselm, Ibn Gabirol, Averroes, Maimonides, Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and Crescas.

Slavic Languages

RUSS G6105: Old Russian Literature II: 1453-1700,T: 4:10-6:00pm
Points: 3    Instructor: V. Izmirlieva (Seminar)

The course surveys major works of the Russian literary canon, from the mid-fifteenth through the seventeenth century. It addresses a period of Russian history that coincides with the rise of Moscow as the center of a growing empire and its decline at the end of the seventeenth century. This period is truly transformative in the cultural sphere. It marks a general shift from medieval to modern practices and celebrates bold experiments with new forms of artistic expression. The course follows these complex processes through close readings of literary texts that have been constructed as “classical” in the Russian national canon. The focus is on the transformation of representative medieval genres (the vita, the pilgrim’s travel notes, the political epistle) into modern ones (the biography, the travelogue, the political satire). Related topics of interest include the emergence of fictionality, literary subjectivity and literature as entertainment, the use of parody as a form of empowerment, and the representation of religious and political “others.”

Spring 2013

Art History
AHIS W4480: Art and the Age of Reformation, TR 10:10am-11:25am
Points: 3 Instructor: P.K. Moxey
Explores the ways in which the culture and social functions of artistic production in Germany and the Netherlands were transformed as a consequence of the dissemination of the ideologies of humanism and the Reformation. STUDENTS MUST REGISTER FOR A DISCUSSION SECTION AHIS 4482
AHIS G8474: The Invention of Oil Painting: Fifteenth Century Netherlandish Art
Points: 3 R 2:10pm-4:00pm Instructor: D. Freedberg
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor
This course, often taught under the rubrics of “Early Netherlandish Painting” or even “Northern Renaissance Painting”, might also be described as “Art in the Age of Van Eyck” or “Painting from Van Eyck to Bosch”. It will begin with manuscripts, and deal with the contribution of great sculptors like Sluter as well. The claim implicit in the title is that the techniques pioneered and perfected by the Van Eycks affected all the other arts too – even though the most original and compelling achievements of the century are probably those of painting, which will form the chief focus of this class. Attention will also be paid to the social and historical contexts of the main works discussed. Several museum visits will be included. Application due by 12/1.
AHIS W4385: Renaissance Architecture History and Theory, T 10:10am-12:00pm
Points: 3     Instructor: F. Benelli.  A survey of Renaissance Architecture in Italy through its buildings and its theory, from Brunelleschi to Palladio and the influence to other European country.
English and Comparative Literature
ENGL W4101y: Literature of the 1590s, MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Points: 3 Instructor: A. Stewart (Lecture).
This course examines the literature of the turbulent final years of the sixteenth century in England, from the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. It ranges over prose, drama, and verse of the period, often read in the context of other historical documents. Topics will include debates about the succession; the perceived threats from Spain and Roman Catholicism; economic hardships; immigration; the challenge posed by the earl of Essex; and concerns about Ireland and the Irish. Texts will include works by Edmund Spenser, Thomas Nashe, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, William Shakespeare, and Francis Bacon, among others.
ENGL G4920y: Scholarly Editing, T 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 3 Instructor: D. Yerkes
No prerequisites. We each will choose something to edit (it may be something you already are editing), and we all will help each other edit. Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Yerkes ( by noon on Tuesday, November 6th, with the subject heading, “Intro to Scholarly Editing seminar.” In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course.
ENGL G6200y: Early Modern Keywords, Wed 9-10:50 a.m.
Points: 3 Instructor: A. Stewart
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar)
Early Modern Keywords explores the literature and culture of early modern England through a thematic focus on terms that were central to the period: commonweal, husbandry, credit, usury, friends, office, popularity, society. The course encourages students to pursue these “keywords;” themes through historically-informed close reading of both literary and non-literary texts from the period. It also draws on substantial secondary reading in social history, economic history, and literary criticism. We will be studying texts by Thomas More, Christopher St German, Thomas Wilson, Thomas Smith, George Gascoigne, Isabella Whitney, George Puttenham, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Francis Bacon, Lucy Hutchinson and Margaret Cavendish. Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Stewart ( by noon on Tuesday, November 6th, with the subject heading, “Early Modern Keywords seminar.” In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course.
CLEN G6537: Theories of Embodiment, W 12:10pm-2:00pm
Points: 3 Instructor: P. Dailey
This course explores how the body, the senses, interiority, and materiality are constructed in ancient and medieval literary, philosophical, and religious texts and how they are connected with hermeneutic and cognitive practices. Texts from antiquity include Aristotle, Paul, Philo, Plotinus, Origen, and Augustine; texts from the Middle Ages include the Old English Body and Soul and The Ruin, Old English riddles, William of St. Thierry, Rudolf von Biberach, Guigo II, Marguerite d’Oingt, Hadewijch, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Victorine texts. The course will also look at how medieval readings of embodiment dialogue with, are commensurate to, or differ from readings of materiality and embodiment in Hegel, Marx, Merleau-Ponty, Lévinas, Derrida, Nancy, Lyotard, Negri, Agamben, and Butler. Given the tendency in the wave of phenomenology (Merleau-Ponty) to think of embodiment as a kind of radical inter-pentetration of world and body, what differences do we find in the revision to phenomenology evidenced by thinkers such as Lyotard, Derrida, and Nancy? How do the “materialities” in medieval mystical texts and their theological counterparts compare? Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Dailey ( by noon on Tuesday, November 6th, with the subject heading, “Embodiment seminar.” In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course.
ENGL W4092: Beowulf, MW 2:40pm-3:55pm
Points: 3    Instructor: P. Dailey
Throughout the course of the semester we will be translating the Old English epic poem Beowulf. Each student will work through his or her own individual translations from Old English to Modern English over the course of the semeseter. Prerequisite: Introduction to Old English, as students need to have a working knowledge of the language. Our primary text is Klaeber’s edition of Beowulf. We will also compare various translations (Liuzza, Heany, Donaldson) with our own. Secondary materials will include _The Postmodern Beowulf_ as well as other materials to familiarize us with historical context, contemporary scholarship, and literary sources.
ENGL G6631: Medieval Culture of the Book, R 10:10am-12:00pm
Points: 3     Instructor: C. Baswell
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor–Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar). Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Baswell ( by noon on Tuesday, November 6th, with the subject heading, “Cultures of the Book seminar.” In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course.
HIST W4083: Crime/Punishment/Middle Ages, M 2:10pm-4:00pm
Points: 4 Instructor: N. Senocak
HIST W4189: Composing the Self in Early Modern Europe, W 9:00am-10:50am
Points: 4 Instructor: C. J. Coleman
Prerequisites: Applications requires, see undergraduate seminar section of dept’s website
This course explores manners of conceiving and being a self in early modern Europe (ca. 1400-1800). Through the analysis of a range of sources, from autobiographical writings to a selection of theological, philosophical, artistic, and literary works, we will address the concept of personhood as a lens through which to analyze topics such as the valorization of interiority, the formation of mechanist and sensationalist philosophies of selfhood, and, more generally, the human person’s relationship with material and existential goods. This approach is intended to deepen and complicate our understanding of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, and other movements around which histories of the early modern period have typically been narrated.
HIST W4434: Atlantic Slave Trade, R 9:00am-10:50am
Points: 4 Instructor: C. Brown
Prerequisites: Application required. Please see undergraduate seminar section of department’s website.
This seminar provides an intensive introduction to the history of the Atlantic slave trade. The course will consider the impact of the traffic on Western Europe and the Americas, as well as on Africa, and will give special attention to the experiences of both captives and captors. Assignments include three short papers and a longer research paper of 20 to 25 pages.
HIST G8214: The Book in the Early Modern World, W 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 4 Instructor: E. Carlebach
This graduate course will introduce students to the scholarly literature on the history of the book with a focus on the first centuries of print. Particular emphasis will be placed on the material aspects of late medieval manuscript culture and early printed books. The course will take place in the Rare Book and Manuscript division of Columbia’s Butler Library. The library’s collection contains many exemplary artifacts for the students to explore with the class and for their own projects. The course will be co-taught by Professors Michael Ryan, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia, and Elisheva Carlebach, Baron Professor of History, Columbia.
HIST G9072: Medieval Science and Society, R 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 3 Instructor: J. Kaye
ITAL W4092: Dante’s Divina Commedia 2, TR 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 4 Instructor: T. Barolini
Prerequisites: Reading knowledge of Italian
A year-long course in which the Commedia is read over two consecutive semesters; students can register for one or both semesters. This course offers a thorough grounding in the entire text and an introduction to the complexities of its exegetical history. Attention not only to historical and theological issues, but also to Dante’s mimesis, his construction of an authorial voice that generations of readers have perceived as “true,” and the critical problems that emerge when the virtual reality created in language has religious and theological pretensions.
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
SPAN G6750/CPLS G6750: Secularism: The Boundaries of Religion in Early and Late Modernity, F 1:10pm-3:55pm
Points: 3 Instructor: S. Kimmel
Course Description — One conventional narrative of European history charts a shift from medieval religion to modern secularism. But do we actually live in a “secular age,” as Charles Taylor has put it? Even if we do live in such an age, how has the process of secularization produced particular varieties of religious belief and practice? What range of roles, on the other hand, have Protestant reform, scholastic inquiry, Islamic revival, and other forms of theological reason played in defining the secular sphere from the early modern period to the present? How do contemporary debates about secularism and religion—not only in Europe and America, but also in the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere—overlap with discourses of imperialism, fundamentalism, or terrorism? In attempting to answer these questions by considering the history of concepts such as tolerance, natural law, multiculturalism, and religious freedom, this class traces the ambivalent contemporary legacy of early modern forms of scholarship, government, and community. Readings include works by Lorenzo Valla, Erasmus, Francisco de Vitoria, Ignatius de Loyola, Baruch Spinoza, and John Locke, as well as by scholars such as Talal Asad, José Casanova, Juan Donoso Cortés, Stathis Gourgouris, Saba Mahmood, Charles Taylor, Edward Said, Carl Schmitt, and others.
MUSI G8102: Seminar in Historical Musicology — Studies in Medieval Liturgy and its Books, Mondays 6-8pm, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Points: 3 Instructors: S. Boynton
This seminar is an introduction to medieval Western chant and liturgy. Students become familiar with major research questions, tools, and methods, and will have the opportunity to study medieval liturgical manuscripts in Columbia’s Rare Books Manuscript Library, where we will meet every week. Field trips will bring us to other collections in New York City.
RELI G8141: Colloquium on Papal Councils, Fri 2:10-4:00pm
Points: 3   Instructor: R. Somerville
Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission. Examination of papal councils and their influence on canon law.
RELI W4170: History of Christianity, M 4:10pm-6:00pm
Points: 4   Instructor: R. Somerville
Prerequisites: Instructor’s permission required. An examination of a series of episodes that are of special consequence for papal history in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Readings in both primary and secondary sources in English translation.