Courses - Spring 2020

MEDVL 1101 FWS: Aspects of Medieval Culture
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Sophia D'Ignazio (sd769)
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MEDVL 1104 FWS: Modernity and the Middle Ages
Academic Career: UG Instructor: John Greenlee (jwg239)
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MEDVL 2100 Medieval Romance: Voyage to the Otherworld

Romances were, essentially, medieval science fiction and fantasy writing. They were how authors in the Middle Ages imagined things beyond rational understanding that, at the same time, greatly extended the possibilities of the world around them.  The course will survey some medieval narratives concerned with representative voyages to the otherworld or with the impinging of the otherworld upon ordinary experience. The syllabus will normally include some representative Old Irish otherworld literature:  selections from The Mabinogion; selections from the Lays of Marie de France; Chretian de Troye's Erec, Yvain, and Lancelot; and the Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  We will finish by looking at a few contemporary otherworld romances, such as selections from J.R.R. Tolkein. All readings will be in modern English. This class counts toward the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Masha Raskolnikov (mr283)
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MEDVL 2170 Early Modern Iberian Survey

This course explores major texts and themes of the Hispanic tradition from the 11th to the 17th centuries. We will examine general questions on literary analysis and the relationship between literature and history around certain events, such as medieval multicultural Iberia, the creation of the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century and the expulsion of the Jews in 1492; the encounter between the Old and the New Worlds; the 'opposition' of high and low in popular culture, and of the secular and the sacred in poetry and prose. Readings may be drawn from medieval short stories and miracle collections; chivalric romances, Columbus, Lazarillo de Tormes, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderón, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, among others.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Pablo Garcia Pinar (pg254)
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MEDVL 2355 Introduction to Medieval Art and Culture

Survey lecture course covering the creation, encoding, and reception of Medieval (roughly AD 500-1500) European, Byzantine, and Islamic architecture, ornament, manuscripts, liturgical and luxury objects.  The approach is thematic but chronologically grounded; attention is also given to cultural interaction in the Mediterranean basin.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Anderson (bwa32)
Cynthia Robinson (cr94)
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MEDVL 2722 Of Saints, Poets, and Revolutionaries: Medieval and Modern Iran and Central Asia

From the poet-kings of medieval Persia to the trading networks of the famed "Silk Road" to the wandering mystics of Herat to the constitutional revolution of Iran to the colonial and post-colonial occupations of contemporary Afghanistan, this course offers a broad cultural and political history of Iranian and Turkic Central Asia.  In addition, we will explore the highly complex intellectual, artistic, and architectural trends and "cross-cultural" exchanges that formed the backbone of many disparate Iranian-Turkic cultures. 

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Seema Golestaneh (sg2327)
Full details for MEDVL 2722 : Of Saints, Poets, and Revolutionaries: Medieval and Modern Iran and Central Asia
MEDVL 3120 Beowulf

Beowulf is about monsters, dragons and heroes and is the longest and most interesting Old English heroic poem. In this course we will read the poem in the original and discuss the critical and scholarly problems which the poem presents. Some knowledge of Old English is appropriate, but the class is open to beginners in Old English who will be provided with tutorial help in preparing and reading assigned passages. Among the topics we will discuss are the relationship of Beowulf to "pagan" practice and belief, the related question of  "Christianity and Paganism " in the poem, "Beowulf and the tradition of  Germanic heroic poetry", " Orality and Christian Latin learning "and "Beowulf, Tolkien, and the modern age". The course will be open to student initiatives, if students wish to explore such topics as Beowulf and archeology or the historical context of the poem. The class counts toward the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Thomas Hill (tdh1)
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MEDVL 3190 Chaucer

Chaucer became known as the "father of English poetry" before he was entirely cold in his grave. Why is what he wrote more than six hundred years ago still riveting for us today? It's not just because he is the granddaddy of this language and its literature; it's because what he wrote was funny, fierce, thoughtful, political, philosophical and, oh yes, notoriously bawdy. We'll read some of Chaucer's brilliant early work, and then dig into his two greatest achievements: the epic Troilus and Crisyede, and The Canterbury Tales, his oft-censored panorama of medieval English life. Chaucer will be read in Middle English, which will prove surprisingly easy and pleasant. The class counts toward the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Andrew Galloway (asg6)
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MEDVL 3200 The Viking Age

This course aims to familiarize students with the history of Scandinavia, ca. 800-1100 ad. Although well known as a dramatic chapter in medieval history, this period remains enigmatic and often misunderstood. Our goal will be to set Norse history within its European context, observing similarities with processes elsewhere in the medieval world, the better to perceive what makes the Norse unique. We will examine the social, economic and political activities of the Norsemen in continental Scandinavia, in Western and Eastern Europe, and in the North Atlantic. 

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Oren Falk (of24)
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MEDVL 3315 Old Norse I

Old Norse is a collective term for the earliest North Germanic literary languages: Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian, Old Danish, and Old Swedish. The richly documented Old Icelandic is the center of attention, and the purpose is twofold: the students gain knowledge of an ancient North Germanic language, important from a linguistic point of view, and gain access to the medieval Icelandic (and Scandinavian) literature. The structure of Old Norse (Old Icelandic), phonology, and morphology, with reading of selections from the Prose-Edda, a 13th-century narrative based on the Eddaic poetry. 

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Brynhildur Stefansdottir (bs724)
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MEDVL 3677 The Search for the Historical Muhammad

As the founder of Islam Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in world history. An important source for his life is the Sira of Ibn Ishaq (d. ca. 761), a biography that opens with Muhammad's birth ca. 570 and ends with his death in 632. If we take the narrative reports in this text at face-value, then Muhammad appears to have been born in the full light of history. But is the Sira a reliable source for the historical Muhammad? In this seminar, we will read this text in its entirely and analyze selected episodes from a critical historical perspective, with special attention to biblical and post-biblical models for the writing of sacred history.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: David Powers (dsp4)
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MEDVL 4002 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
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MEDVL 4100 Advanced Old English

Wisdom literature is the literary expression of the received ideas that define the religious, cultural, and political ideals of a community. It is rich, interesting, and sometimes very strange. It is also one of the best attested genres preserved in Old English.We will read some poems that are explicitly sapiential, such as the Exeter Maxims which gather gnomic statements, proverbs and "sentential statements." Others, such as The Wanderer and The Seafarer, are poems of lament and reflection, but include extensive wisdom passages.In addition to wisdom poetry as such, there is an extensive corpus of vernacular riddles in Old English and riddling poetry is closely related to wisdom poetry. In Proverbs 1:6 wisdom texts are described as the riddles of the wise. And finally, the corpus of Old  English law. which is the only surviving corpus of early Germanic law in the vernacular, preserves a great deal of wisdom literature as well as more explicitly "legal" texts. Previous knowledge of Old English is not required. The class counts toward the pre-1800 requirement for English majors.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Thomas Hill (tdh1)
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MEDVL 4540 Moses Maimonides

Moses Maimonides who was born in Cordoba (1138), moved to Fez as a youth and died in Cairo (1204) is regarded by Jewish, Islamic, and Christian tradition alike as the most important Jewish religious intellectual of the classical age of Islam/the High Middle Ages. This seminar will examine Maimonides as the product of his time and place including his complex relationship with Arabo-Islamic culture and, because of his stature as a communal figure, rabbinic scholar, court physician and philosopher, his role as a catalyst for cultural developments. For comparative purposes we also consider Maimonides' Andalusi contemporary, Ibn Rushd, the philosopher, Muslim jurist, physician and scholar of Islamic law.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
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MEDVL 4963 China's Early Modern

Theories of modernization have inspired, informed, and plagued histories of middle and late imperial China.  For the Song-Qing eras (roughly 10th-19th centuries), comparative studies have variously found and sought to explain modernization emerging earlier than in Europe, an absence of modernization, or alternative paths of modernization.  Regional models have argued for pan-East Asian systems and patterns of modernization.  Global models have argued that China had a vital role in European development as a provenance of modernizing institutions and ideas, as a source of exploited resources, or otherwise as an integral part of global systems.  In this course we explore these historiographical debates and develop critical perspectives, including approaches to escaping Eurocentric and teleological frameworks.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tj Hinrichs (th289)
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MEDVL 6020 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for MEDVL 6020 : Latin Philosophical Texts
MEDVL 6102 Latin Paleography

This course is an introduction to and survey of Latin scripts from Roman antiquity through the early Renaissance, with an emphasis on the identification, localization, and reading of scripts. Class meetings will combine practical study of Latin scripts through medieval manuscripts in the Kroch library, facsimiles, and online digital reproductions with instruction in the cultural-historical background to manuscript production, library practices, and bibliographical resources. Students will also be introduced to basic techniques for codicological description and the principles of textual criticism.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Andrew Hicks (ajh299)
Full details for MEDVL 6102 : Latin Paleography
MEDVL 6120 Beowulf

Beowulf is about monsters, dragons and heroes and is the longest and most interesting Old English heroic poem. In this course we will read the poem in the original and discuss the critical and scholarly problems which the poem presents. Some knowledge of Old English is appropriate, but the class is open to beginners in Old English who will be provided with tutorial help in preparing and reading assigned passages. Among the topics we will discuss are the relationship of Beowulf to "pagan" practice and belief, the related question of  "Christianity and Paganism " in the poem, "Beowulf and the tradition of  Germanic heroic poetry", " Orality and Christian Latin learning "and "Beowulf, Tolkien, and the modern age". The course will be open to student initiatives, if students wish to explore such topics as Beowulf and archeology or the historical context of the poem.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Thomas Hill (tdh1)
Full details for MEDVL 6120 : Beowulf
MEDVL 6540 Moses Maimonides

Moses Maimonides who was born in Cordoba (1138), moved to Fez as a youth and died in Cairo (1204) is regarded by Jewish, Islamic, and Christian tradition alike as the most important Jewish religious intellectual of the classical age of Islam/the High Middle Ages. This seminar will examine Maimonides as the product of his time and place including his complex relationship with Arabo-Islamic culture and, because of his stature as a communal figure, rabbinic scholar, court physician and philosopher, his role as a catalyst for cultural developments. For comparative purposes we also consider Maimonides' Andalusi contemporary, Ibn Rushd, the philosopher, Muslim jurist, physician and scholar of Islamic law.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
Full details for MEDVL 6540 : Moses Maimonides
MEDVL 6963 China's Early Modern

Theories of modernization have inspired, informed, and plagued histories of middle and late imperial China.  For the Song-Qing eras (roughly 10th-19th centuries), comparative studies have variously found and sought to explain modernization emerging earlier than in Europe, an absence of modernization, or alternative paths of modernization.  Regional models have argued for pan-East Asian systems and patterns of modernization.  Global models have argued that China had a vital role in European development as a provenance of modernizing institutions and ideas, as a source of exploited resources, or otherwise as an integral part of global systems.  In this course we explore these historiographical debates and develop critical perspectives, including approaches to escaping Eurocentric and teleological frameworks.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tj Hinrichs (th289)
Full details for MEDVL 6963 : China's Early Modern
MEDVL 8010 Directed Study - Individual
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MEDVL 8020 Directed Study - Group
Academic Career: GR Instructor: Andrew Galloway (asg6)
Andrew Hicks (ajh299)
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