Spring 2016

Last updated 1 December 2015.


English: Seminar in Medieval Literature: Theorizing Gender before 1500 (350:612)

Prof. Klein
Th 9:50 AM-12:50 PM

This course will explore issues and questions generated by two developments in medieval studies: the increasingly central position of gender as a topic for critical analysis, and the use of contemporary theory as a means to explore the past. We will be concerned to trace out how medievalists have both used and produced theories that touch on gender, to examine fundamental changes in public attitudes toward gender from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries, and to develop a variety of working models for theorizing gender in medieval texts.

We will focus most of our primary readings on hagiography and romance—the two most popular genres of medieval writing. Both genres foreground gender, gendered bodies, sexuality, marriage, and family within highly formulaic and yet historically particularized narrative structures, and thus offer ground for mediating between theoretical issues and the claims of a particular historical period. A brief tour of Old English heroic poetry will offer additional perspectives on gender, as well as primary materials for theorizing gender. Throughout the course, we will read theoretical texts and examine analyses of gender from a variety of disciplines. Texts may include: Ælfric’s Life of Euphrosyne and Life of Eugenia, theLife of Mary of Egypt, Alain de Lille’s De planctu naturae, the Roman de Silence, Beowulf, Judith, Elene, Wulf and Eadwacer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Arthurian Romances, the Old English Life of St. Margaret and Story of Apollonius of Tyre, texts on rhetoric (Philip of Harveng, Alberic of Monte Cassino) and medicine, and texts by early women mystics.

This course requires no previous background in medieval literature and will provide a solid foundation for students who may be asked to teach medieval texts at some point in their careers. Most of our texts will be available in Modern English translation. However, some course time will be reserved for introducing students to (or increasing students’ facility with) Old and Middle English.

Requirements: two short papers (10 pp. each) or one longer paper (20-25 pp.), attendance, participation, and brief class presentations.


English: Issues & Problems in Medieval Literature and Culture: Medieval Paleography (358:309:01)

Prof. O’Byrne
M/W 11:30 AM-12:50 PM

How do scholars approach medieval manuscripts? How does one determine the date and provenance of a manuscript? What can a manuscript description tell us about the creation, history, and use of the manuscript? This course will introduce graduate and advanced undergraduate students to paleography (the study of ancient handwriting) and codicology (the study of the codex book). The course examines the development of handwriting styles in Europe from the late Roman Empire to the advent of the printing press. Students will develop the skills necessary to read and transcribe the scripts used in medieval manuscripts. They will become familiar with common reference materials used for describing and dating manuscripts, and they will develop an understanding of the history of book production in the Middle Ages. Archival skills will be stressed as students learn to handle, examine, read, describe, and analyze medieval books. Students should expect to spend time in a rare book room at a local library to complete their final project.


Art History: Problems in Medieval Art: Medieval Art History and its Geography (082: 622)

Prof. Thuno
Th 9:50 AM-12:30 PM

What is the geography of medieval art history? Is it a narrative crafted by art historians about medieval visual culture as it concentrates and disseminates across cities, countries and regions? Certainly! But crafted how – and according to which criteria? To what extent does this map provide a distorted or only partial view of that visual culture’s borders, chronologies and exposure to other cultures? To answer these questions, this seminar investigates the construction of the canon of medieval art by looking into such aspects as textbooks, geopolitics, and euro-centrism. And then we try to deconstruct the canon by discussing issues pertaining to globalism, center versus periphery, cross-culturalism and time. Point of reference will be the South Caucasus region (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan), but other geographical areas can/will also be taken into consideration (Balkans, Sicily, Spain, etc.). Since the seminar yields topics of current relevance to the discipline at large, students of other periods or directions (i.e. cultural heritage/historic preservation) are very welcome.


French: Studies in Medieval French Literature: Medieval Courtly Genres from Manuscript to Print (420:616)

Prof. Pairet
M 3:55 PM-6:55 PM

What is a lai, a romans, or a chantefable in the Middle Ages? How are literary modes, genres, and forms constructed and how do they unfold historically? What cultural, social, and material parameters shape the creation of formal, narrative, and textual conventions?
This seminar will examine the evolution of lyric and narrative genres from the 12th to the 15th centuries, underscoring the dynamic character of literary forms as well as certain elements of continuity with the pre-modern period. Conceived as an introduction to courtly fiction in langue d’oïl, the seminar does not require prior knowledge of Old French or Middle French.

Course requirements: weekly preparation and participation; oral presentation; 2 research papers (16-20 page total).

Required texts to be purchased:

  • Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier de la Charrette, trad. Charles Méla, Le Livre de Poche, coll. Lettres Gothiques. ISBN 2-253054011.
  • Les Lais de Marie de France, éd. Karl Warnke, trad. Laurence Harf-Lancner, Le Livre de Poche, coll. Lettres Gothiques,1990. ISBN 2-253-05271-X.
  • Aucassin et Nicolette, éd. Jean Dufournet, GF, 1993. ISBN 2-080702610.
  • La Châtelaine de Vergy, éd. Jean Dufournet et Liliane Dulac, Gallimard/Folio, 1994. ISBN 2-070-38832-8.
  • Guillaume de Lorris, Le Roman de la Rose, éd. et trad. Armand Strubel. Le Livre de Poche, coll. Lettres. Gothiques, 1992. ISBN 2-253-06079-8 OR Guillaume de Lorris, Le Roman de la Rose, trad. Jean. Dufournet, GF Flammarion, 1999. 2080710036.


Jewish Studies: Jewish History I: Ancient and Medieval (563:501)

Prof. Tartakoff
M/W 1:10-2:30 PM

This course examines the social, religious, intellectual, and political experience of the Jewish people from the crystallization of their national-religious consciousness in the biblical period through the end of the 15th century. The religion and culture of the Jews are discussed within the broader context of their environment. The course divides neatly into three main periods: the biblical (or ancient) period, the post-biblical period (known as late antiquity), and the medieval period. We begin the course with the ancient Israelites as an independent people in its own land, and then move to the study of the Jews under foreign rule (including Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome, Islam, and Christianity). Primary sources (Bible, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Talmud, Maimonides, medieval chronicles, etc.) are emphasized throughout. The course concludes with the Expulsion of the Jews from the Iberian Peninsula.