Spring 2015

(updated 10/31/14)

Medieval Courses 

MSCP.  70100 - Introduction to Medieval Studies: Contours of the Medieval West  GC:  W, 4:15-6:00 p.m., Rm. TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Sautman [27039] Cross listed with FREN XXXXX

This introduction to Medieval Studies course is offered to prospective medievalists at the Graduate Center by the Medieval Studies Certificate program. It is a general course which addresses at once methods, sources, and major issues and themes of the Western Middle Ages and does so across disciplines. It can thus be also helpful to students in various disciplines with a Middle Ages requirement for their Program and are allowed to cover it with this one course. Finally, for those who already have completed medieval course work in their own field, but have not yet worked with the Certificate Program, it can be good way to tie in diverse aspects of medieval studies with their own discipline. The course is thus structured to address the needs of all three groups of doctoral students.

This semester’s course combines these general needs with a somewhat tighter focus around the three themes of time; space, and power–the latter envisaged also through those who lack power, and are disenfranchised or marginalized. At the end of the course, students should have a good general understanding of the major historical and cultural issues of the European Middle Ages, such as the relationship of art, architecture and society, for instance; they should be aware of the major interpretation issues in the field of Medieval Studies; and be informed of the most current critical, theoretical and methodological trends in Medieval Studies. They should also have developed a preliminary sense of how cultural regions and budding nation states interacted and impacted each other during that period


Renaissance Courses

RSCP. 83100 - Remembering & Repressing: Early Modern Cultural Appropriation and Historical Trauma  GC:  M, 6:30-8:30pm p.m., Rm. TBA, 3/4 credits, Prof. Elsky, [27038] Cross listed with ENGL 81100

One of the consequences of the mounting critique of historicism has been the rise of memory studies. This course will explore the various ways anachronic memory seeks to replace history in early modern literature and culture.  We will begin with an introduction to cultural memory studies, with special emphasis on the construction of a coherent personal and social identity by projecting the past into the present as overlapping temporalities.

We will look at the various ways the arts made the past part of everyday life, but we will place special emphasis on works in which the most startling effects are produced by resistance to integration.  Throughout the course we will explore the role of memory at a time of uncertain, ambivalent, and conflicted national and religious boundaries.

We will look at the period’s most ambitious memory project, the retrieval of classical antiquity. We will attempt to redefine the concept of imitation as anxious and conflicted memory, especially in Petrarch,  and then move to classical imitation in England as repressed memory of Roman tyranny in Britain filtered through a variety of ethnic pasts—Celtic, Gothic, and Norman, leading to the manipulation of overlapping pasts to establish national identity, as in Shakespeare.

The second half of the course will turn to the period’s other major memory project, religious memory, specifically representations of traumatic memory during England’s Catholic and Protestant reigns. We will consider how Catholics and Protestants remembered their own pasts and expropriated each other’s during times of persecution. We will end this half of the course by considering the memorial re-mapping of the scriptural and medieval Jewish past, including the discovery of Jewish remains in London.

The course will conclude with a refreshing reminder look at the period’s iconic meditation on the futility of memory, Thomas Browne’s Urn Burial. In addition to Petrarch, Shakespeare and Browne, readings will include Jonson, Herbert, and Stow, as well as excerpts from Early Modern historiography, both Catholic and Protestant, and art historical materials.

Assignments include oral report and longer term project.