Spring 2016 

Last updated on 1 December 2015

Medieval Courses

ART 537 / MED 500 / HLS 534 Seminar in Medieval Art – Byzantine and Medieval Manuscripts
W 1:30-4:20pm
The course explores the fields of Byzantine and western manuscript illumination through categories of medieval books that offer scope for dissertation in both traditions. Case studies of key examples structure the sessions and the reading list. Course bibliography includes both fundamental and recent works; an emphasis on method and historiography in art history’s approach to manuscript studies is a focus of the class. The course concludes with a formal colloquium and will include time in both Princeton and New York collections.

ENG 311 / MED 309 (LA) The Medieval Period
R 1:30-4:20pm
This course will survey some of the most important medieval literature of England (partially excluding Chaucer). Violence is one of its obsessive concerns, and we will examine how its many forms–political, personal, philosophical–shape literary representations of war, insurrection, love, death, consolation, and the sacred. Readings will include many of the brilliant examples of different kinds of Middle English literature: chivalric romance, saint’s life, the chanson d’aventure, mystical vision, debate, lyric, and elegy.

ENG 400 / MED 400 (LA) Touching Books — An Introduction to the History of the Book
M 1:30-4:20pm
This course introduces the student to manuscripts and early printed books made in the West between the fourth and sixteenth centuries CE. We will study the aesthetic and textual programs, and the production and functions of the book, including hand-written and printed examples. Turning the (intellectual) page from chronological considerations, we will consider simulacra of books — facsimiles, critical editions, and digital images. How should each of these textual products be used? What is the space of the page itself, and how is it shaped by audience and editorial practice?

ENG 422 / MED 422 (LA) Loss and Longing in the Anglo-Saxon Era: Elegy & Elegaic
T 7:30-10:20pm
The “art of losing isn’t hard to master,” claims modern poet Elizabeth Bishop. Yet the genre of elegy in English isn’t easy to master or account for. We write elegies because we are shredded by loss. But of what does the art of representing what we lose consist? We will consider the searing witnesses to yearning and regret in texts of the Anglo-Saxon period to learn what could be mourned, who could grieve, and how one could be consoled. By methods comparative and critical, we will read how these millenium-old speakers comprehended, and perhaps even mastered, their losses.

GER 521 / MED 521   Topics in German Intellectual History – Mysticism and Modernity
R 1:30-4:20pm
So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, and Derrida, and from Novalis to Musil, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we first read key medieval and baroque texts. Based on the class discussion and on individual student interests, we then look into the ways how these texts have been read by 19th and 20th century authors and explore the impact they had on the discussion of modern concepts of subjectivity, affect, and agency.

HIS 345 / HLS 345 / MED 345 (HA) The Crusades
MW 1:30-2:20pm
The Crusades were a central phenomenon of the Middle Ages. This course examines the origins and development of the Crusades and the Crusader States in the Islamic East. It explores dramatic events, such as the great Siege of Jerusalem, and introduces vivid personalities, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. We will consider aspects of institutional, economic, social and cultural history and compare medieval Christian (Western and Byzantine), Muslim and Jewish perceptions of the crusading movement. Finally, we will critically examine the resonance the movement continues to have in current political and ideological debates.

HIS 542 / HLS 542 / MED 542 Problems in Byzantine History – Rethinking the 11th Century in Byzantium
T 1:30-4:20pm
The eleventh century is now generally seen as a period of economic expansion in the Byzantine and east Mediterranean world, on the one hand, but of military and political collapse on the other, chiefly as a result of the defeat at the battle of Manzikert in 1071 at the hands of the Selcuk Turks. Is this picture justified? How do contemporary sources view the empire and its politics at this time? What is the nature of the evidence for both the economic and social and political history of the empire? This course will re-examine key sources for the period to see how far the currently-accepted view is justified.

ITA 303 / MED 303 (LA) Dante’s Inferno
TR 11am-12:20pm
Intensive study of the “Inferno”, with major attention paid to poetic elements such as structure, allegory, narrative technique, and relation to earlier literature, principally the Latin classics. Course conducted in English with highly interactive classes and preceptorials. One precept in Italian will be scheduled on a need-to-be basis.

MUS 230 / MED 230 (LA)  Music in the Middle Ages
TR 3-4:20pm
Introduction to some important musical repertories from before 1400 A.D.: Gregorian chant; the troubadour culture; the intellectual culture of music theory and the earliest polyphonic music. Among the problems and issues: how to recover the medieval roots of oral traditions that are still practiced today; how ancient and medieval concepts of tuning, mode, notation, form, and language continued to shape the history of music long after the Middle Ages.

NES 545 / MED 545 / REL 548 / JDS 545 Problems in Near Eastern Jewish History
R 9-11:50am
This course offers a hands-on introduction to primary sources composed by Jews in the Islamic Near East and their uses for social, cultural, and intellectual history. Readings are chosen according to student interests and language competencies, and may include medieval rabbinic responsa and legal codes, biblical commentaries, and documents from the Cairo Geniza.