Fall 2015 

Medieval Courses


MED 227   The World of the Middle Ages     Professor Sara S. Poor  MW 11:00-12:20
An introduction to medieval culture in Western Europe from the end of the classical world to ca. 1400. The course focuses on themes such as the medieval concepts of self, humanity, and God; nation-building, conquest and crusade; relations among Christians, Jews, and Moslems; literacy, heresy, and the rise of vernacular literature; gender, chivalry, and the medieval court. Material approached through various cultural forms and media; some lectures by invited guest lecturers. Seminar discussion format with some lecturing.

ART 208/MED 208     Means, Media and Mode: Introduction to Western Medieval Art  Professor Beatrice Kitzinger    MW 12:30-1:20
An introduction to western medieval art, approached primarily through distinctions of technique, materials and media.  We concentrate on the importance of attributes in medieval art dependent on specifics of matter, genre, and manufacture.  Case studies are chosen that raise particularly complex questions of interpretation derived from mixed-media forms, or cross-genre citation.  We work as a class to define concepts of media and artistic mode in the medieval context, with reference to the modern contexts more familiar to us.  In precept time, we work with the buildings and artworks on campus.  An excursion to an area collection will be arranged.

CLA 245/HLS 244/GSS 245/MED 244     Sex and Salvation in Early Christian Literature  Professor Emmanuel Bourbouhakis  MW 3:00-4:20
Why did sex become so prominent in the moral imagination of early Christianity?  How did the fate of the soul become so dependent on the sexual discipline of Christians?  We will read a wide variety of late antique and early medieval texts which explore, prescribe, and aestheticize physical love and relate its consequences for sine and salvation in later Roman society.  The course will emphasize literary as well as social history.

NES 245/HIS 245/MED 245  The Islamic World from Its Emergence to the Beginnings of Westernization Professor Michael Cook  TTH 3:00-4:20
This course begins with the formation of the traditional Islamic world in the 7th century and ends with the first signs of its transformation under Western impact in the 18th century.  The core of the course is the history of state formation in the Middle East, but other regions and themes make significant appearances.  The course can stand on its own or serve as a background to the study of the modern Islamic world.

ART 317/MED 317    The Shape of the Narrative: Story and Form in Western Medieval Art Professor Beatrice Kitzinger MW 3:00-4:20
We discuss narrative strategy in the Middle Ages by examining artistic media and visual storytelling as a pair.  We consider what “narrative” means in the medieval visual context and how we distinguish it from the contrasting visual mode often called “iconic.”  We investigate the functions of storytelling in medieval art, how verbal narratives relate t visual ones, and how the context of a story affects its meaning.  We approach these questions through examples that differ in their materiality, medium and cultural context, including stories both secular and religious.  Readings include medieval textual narrative, historical and critical works.

ENG 421/MED 421   Beowulf Professor Sarah Anderson W 1:30-4:20
How does Beowulf work as a poem? In this course, we will find out, learning the poem through close study of its manuscript context and of its literary and historical milieux. We will examine its genre; sources of and analogues to it; its metrics; its place in theories of oral performance; codicological problems (e.g., why the manuscript looks as it does; how paleography helps to date the poem); and its historical and cultural settings. Tune up your harp, sharpen your wits, and find out why this poem is first in collections of English literature.

HIS 428/HLS 428/MED 428    Empire and Catastrophe Professor Teresa Shawcross TH 1:30-4:20
Catastrophe reveals the fragility of human society.  This course examines a series of phenomena – plague, famine, war, revolution, economic depression etc. – in order to reach an understanding of humanity’s imaginings of but also resilience to collective crises.  We shall look in particular at how political forces such as empire have historically both generated and resisted global disasters.  Material dealing with the especially fraught centuries at the transition between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period will be set alongside examples drawn from antiquity as well as our own contemporary era.

ART 430/HLS 430/MED 430     Medieval Art: Writing on the Image Professor Charles E. Barber T 1:30-4:20
This seminar investigates the presence of words on images.  It will ask how signatures, titles, epigrams, quotations, names, prayers, graffiti and other verbal traces on the surface of the work of art challenge our assumptions of representation, introducing speech acts, memorials, frames, possession, and origins into this visual economy.  Our focus will be on Byzantine art, using a range of media: icon, ivory, enamel, manuscript, architecture.  No previous knowledge of Byzantine art is necessary.  Students will be able to write on non-Byzantine topics.

GER 509/MED 509       Middle High German Literature II: Cross-Dressing and Courtship in Medieval Texts Sara S. PoorW 1:30-4:20
What can “gender trouble” in medieval romance narratives reveal about ideologies of gender?  Examining a range of behavior from outright cross-dressing (Roman de Silence) to the adoption of one or more attributes normally attributed to the opposite sex (Orgeluse in Wolfram’s Parzival), we will also engage with feminist theories of cross-dressing and gendered subjectivity (Garber, Butler, Moi).  Students will explore how fictional narratives of the past can be used to critique and historicize current theoretical models, and alternatively, how theoretical approaches can foster more nuanced readings of medieval text and context.

MUS 512/MED 512   Topics in Medieval Music  TBD
Source-critical, historical, and stylistic studies of one of the late medieval polyphonic repertories are studied.

HIS 544/MED 544    Seminar in Medieval History 13th C. France Professor William C. Jordan T 1:30-4:20
Reading and research seminar on thirteenth-century France.

Renaissance & Early Modern Studies