Fall 2013 Courses

 The following is a list of courses relating to the Concurrent Degree in Medieval Studies.  Please see the online schedule of classes for updated information. 

Celtic Studies

Introduction to Old Irish

Course/Section: Celtic Studies 105
6307 Dwinelle Hall
Time:  Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 9-10 [or by class agreement]
Instructor: Melia, Daniel

An introduction to the Irish language as written in the eighth and ninth centuries.  Grammar and lexicon will be covered simultaneously with graded readings from real Old and Middle Irish texts.  There will be some work with manuscripts.  The surviving corpus of medieval Irish language texts is large and includes legal, historical, legendary, genealogical, grammatical, poetic, and religious works.  The language is closely related to classical Latin and shows many interestingly archaic features.  The course will be of value to medievalists, Celticists, and historical linguists alike.  Limited to 15 students. 

Written requirements: Weekly homework assignments, mid-term exam, final exam.

Thurneysen, Rudolph. Grammar of Old Irish. Dublin: School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1946. Reprint, 2003. ISBN 1855001616.

Green, Antony. Old Irish Verbs and VocabularySomerville, MA: Cascadilla Press, 1995. ISBN 1-5743-003-7.

Strachan, J. and O. Bergin, eds. Stories from the Tain. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1944. Reprint, 1964. ISBN 1874045267.

De Vries, Ranke. A Student’s Companion to Old Irish Grammar. Ranke de Vries, 2013. ISBN 978-0615783109.



Introduction to Old English

Course/Section: English 205A
108 Wheeler Hall
  Tuesday/Thursday, 11-12:30
  Thornbury, Emily V.

This class introduces students to the language, literature, and modern critical study of the written vernacular culture of England before the Norman Conquest—an era whose language and aesthetics now seem radically foreign. By the end of the semester, students should be capable of reading and translating a variety of Old English prose and verse texts, analyzing these works’ style, and situating them in the context of early medieval culture. (You will even have written a poem in Old English!) Linguistic mastery is emphasized, and much of the in-class work for the course will consist of translation and close reading. But coursework will also address a range of interpretative and literary-historical issues, as well as introduce the tools and methods essential to scholars in the field of Anglo-Saxon literature. Depending on student interests, we may also consider topics such as palaeography; manuscript context; the interaction of Latin and Old English; and/or modern translations from Old English. 205A is normally a prerequisite for more advanced courses in Old English. No prior knowledge of Old English is assumed, and undergraduates may be admitted with the permission of the instructor.


Sensory Aesthetics in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Poetry and Drama

Course/Section: English 250, section 2
301 Wheeler Hall
Wednesday, 1-4
  Nolan, Maura

Sensation is a liminal phenomenon, a phenomenon that marks edges and borders. It is the interface between the material world and the physical body as well as between the body and the mind. Medieval writing is full of sensation, from the theoretical accounts of sensation found in scholastic philosophy to the richly sensuous poetics of romance and the raw sensationalism of the fabliau. But the relationship between theories of sensation and the performance of sensation found in poetry or other kinds of imaginative writing – a relationship that, in contemporary terms, would be understood as an aesthetic – is rarely made explicit in medieval texts. Medieval theological and philosophical accounts of sensation focused instead on the relationship between the human senses and divinity as various thinkers sought to understand the meaning of embodiment in a world both material and immaterial. Late medieval and early modern poets embraced sensation as an aesthetic category without offering any theoretical or critical account of the relationship between the human senses and art, though their work did reflect common understandings of the nature and function of sensation drawn largely from religious discourse. This class will read a variety of poetic engagements with sensation, from the 14th to the 16th century, with the goal of developing an account of vernacular poetry and sensory aesthetics that stretches across the medieval and Renaissance divide. We will read Chaucer, Gower, Hoccleve, Lydgate, Wyatt, and Spenser, as well as a wide variety of poems drawn from anthologies and miscellanies and from less well-known poets. We will also read a range of theoretical works on sensation and aesthetics, from Aquinas and Bonaventure, to Kant, Burke, and Adorno (among other aesthetic theorists), to contemporary cognitive accounts of sensory perception and the aesthetic.



Reading and Interpretation of Old French Texts

Course/Section: French 211A
4226 Dwinelle Hall
Instructor:  Hult, David 

Introduction to the study of medieval French language and literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Through a careful analysis and critical interpretation of certain canonical works (La Chanson de Roland; Béroul and Thomas, Tristan; selected lais of Marie de France; selected romans of Chrétien de Troyes; Le Roman de la Rose) we will study Old French language and some main dialects; verse and prose composition; theories of the oral tradition; editorial problems; and the material aspects of the manuscript work (including some work on codicology and paleography). Class will be conducted in English.

La Chanson de Roland
, ed. I. Short; Le Roman de la Rose, ed. Strubel; Chrétien de Troyes, Romans; Tristan et Iseut, ed. P. Walter; Kibler, Introduction to Old French.

Additional information:
No previous knowledge of Old French language or literature is expected. This course fulfills the Medieval Literature component of the historical coverage requirement.



The Age of Robert the Pious: Kingship, Monasticism, and the "Feudal Mutation"

Course/Section: History 285
 Koziol, Geoffrey

Robert the Pious (996-1031) has always been a problematic king.  On the one hand, a contemporary life describes him as something of a holy fool.  On the other hand, he conquered Burgundy.  It has always been hard to fit the two together.  In addition, his reign saw the rapid diffusion of monastic reforms from Cluny and Marmoutier, the development of the Peace of God, and the first appearance of popular heresy in the Latin West.  It was also the age of castles and the "feudal mutation."  It says a great deal about the puzzles of Robert's reign that we do not even know if a "feudal mutation" actually took place.  This course will use Robert's charters to try to get at what was really happening in early eleventh-century France.  Good French and at least rudimentary Latin are essential; good German is not essential but very helpful.


Scandinavian Studies

Old Norse

Course/Section: Scandinavian 201A (4 units)
6415 Dwinelle Hall
Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30-5
Wellendorf, Jonas

An introduction to the written language of Iceland and Norway during the Middle Ages, the language in which skaldic and Eddic poetry and the sagas are recorded. Emphasis on increasing reading ability through recognition of grammatical forms and building vocabulary, with some presentation of literary and cultural background. By the end of the course students should be able to read normal Old Norse prose texts with the aid of a dictionary.

Geir T. Zoëga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic. Additional material (grammar and texts) will be made available on b-Space.

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing; consent of instructor.


Also of Interest:

Italian Studies

Boccaccio’s Renaissance

Course/Section: Italian Studies 215 (2-4 units)
6331 Dwinelle Hall
Monday, 2-5
Ascoli, Albert R.

A dated and yet not entirely discarded cliché calls Petrarch the “first modern man,” and the pervasive influence of Petrarch on both the growth of Latin Humanism and lyric Petrarchism in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is widely acknowledged.  The thesis of this course (and of a conference that will also be held during fall 2013) is that Petrarch’s contemporary, friend and follower, Giovanni Boccaccio, had an influence no less pervasive—indeed perhaps far more so—but far less widely considered by the scholarship.  Boccaccio, to begin with, plays a critical role in the Renaissance reception and diffusion of the works of both Petrarch and their illustrious precursor, Dante, as well as in the repackaging and expansion of the classical literary canon.  Boccaccio’s Decameron, of course, generated a flourishing early modern tradition of proto-novelistic short-story collections (think of Marguerite de Navarre and Cervantes), but also provided substantial material for the nascent dramatic tradition (from Machiavelli’s Mandragola to Shakespeare’s All’s Well).  His biographical collection, Of Famous Women, was an indispensable source and model for the wide-spread debates on the status of women.  His Genealogy of the Gentile Gods was a staple of the Renaissance mythographical tradition.  His geographical treatises continued to make an impact even as the map of the world underwent a remarkable series of changes.  And so on and on.  The aim of this course is not simply to take note of the various ways in which Boccaccio’s oeuvre lived on “in itself” and in its influence throughout European early modernity, but also to reflect on the cultural project and authorial “subject position” that made “Boccaccism” at once ubiquitous and invisible from the fourteenth century to the seventeenth. 

Course requirements: Students are expected to attend and participate regularly.  There will be occasional in-class presentations and some shorter writing assignments.  Students will also be expected to attend and actively participate in the international conference, “A Boccaccian Renaissance?” planned for October 24-26, 2013.  The principal assignment for the course is a research paper of ca. 6000 words (20-25 pages), an advanced draft of which will be presented to the seminar during the final weeks of the semester.  Topics must be closely related to the concerns of the course although they may focus on authors, texts and issues not directly treated in seminar. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing; consent of the instructor. Course Conducted in English. Reading knowledge of Italian highly desirable, but not required; reading knowledge of French, Spanish, and/or Latin very useful.


Graduate Theological Union

Historical Methods in the Study of Christianity and Judaism

Course/Section: (GTU) HS 6025
Hedco Room (GTU)
  Monday, 2:10-5
  Aranoff, Deena, and Christopher Ocker

This course will survey a variety of historical methodologies as they are commonly applied to the historical study of Christianity and Judaism. The seminar will pay particular attention to current scholarship and works of ongoing methodological importance from previous generations which form the background of current cultural-historical study of Christianity and Judaism. Seminar required of GTU doctoral students in history and expected of doctoral students in other areas declaring history as an allied field.