Fall 2018

Fall 2018 Courses on the Middle Ages

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Comparative Literature

Mystical Divine Experience in Literature

Course/Section: Comp Lit 20C.001
Location
: Dwinelle 223
Time
: T-Th 11:00 am to 12:29 pm
Instructor
: Largier, Niklaus

The notion of ‘mystical’ experience of the Divine, of Nature, or of Beauty plays an important role in the history of many cultures. In this course we will discuss the basic ideas of mystical theology from the so-called Western traditions. We will read and discuss key texts, analyze the ways in which they talk about about the Divine and about the possibilities to “see” or “experience” it. Based on this, we will look into traditions of art and literature where these notions of “seeing” or “experiencing” the Divine are reflected. Questions will focus on the ways how these experiences are narrated, constructed and framed, and how this plays a role in the aesthetic experience of the self from medieval art to modern abstract painting and music.

 

German

Scenes of Formation: Media before Modernity

Course/SectionGerman 205.001
Location
: Dwinelle 282
Time
: Th 1-3:59 pm
Instructor
: Largier, Niklaus

Time and again, modern media theorists have turned to premodern configurations of 'media', e.g., the transition from scrolls to codices and books in manuscript culture, the relations between images and texts in manuscripts and early prints, the emergence of print, as well as medieval and early modern theories of media. In this seminar, we will discuss exemplary situations of media use and of the significance of media from the Middle Ages to the Baroque (including religious and courtly literature, as well as early modern theater). We will also try to see how far modern media theory is able to help us understand premodern cultural artifacts.

 

History of the German Language

Course/Section: German 270 (4)
Location
: Dwinelle 282
Time
: Tu 11-1
Instructor
: Irmengard Rauch

Designed for graduate and undergraduate students  interested in the external and internal history of the German language from prehistoric times to the present and its interchange with closely and remotely related languages. Sociolinguistic approaches to genetic language processes, informing the German language across time,  are illustrated through the interface with literary documents from ancient Cattle Raids though  Runic, Gothic, Medieval German and English texts, as well as excerpts from Luther’s era, Modern and Contemporary  German. No prerequistes. 

 

German Linguistics: From Then to Now

Course/Section: German 290 (4)
Location
: Dwinelle 282
Time
: Tu 2-4
Instructor
: Irmengard Rauch

The rich legacy that is Germanic linguistics will be constructed from several foci: Germanic grammar with its roots in the Anomalists and Analogists of Classical Greco-Roman grammar, from the Old Icelandic First Grammarian to contemporary ethnicity and gender grammar; appeal to theoretical, anthropological, and sociological approaches, highlighting controversies and personages through time, surrounding the establishment of linguistic laws informing Germanic language changes; the outreach of the principles of Germanic linguistics to general linguistics and to non-linguistic related arts and sciences. In addition, less studied evidence such as Langobardic will be subsumed under the umbrella of this seminar. No prerequisites.

History

Later Medieval Law: Practice, Literature, Ritual

Course/Section: History 280
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Koziol, Geoffrey

This course will focus primarily on France and England from the late 12th through the 14th centuries. However, assignments for the last several weeks will remain open, in order to accommodate students’ different interests. The first purpose of the course is simply to introduce some of the basic elements of legal organization and practice. We will therefore cover English writs, eyres, and commissions of oyer et terminer and trailbaston, and French “common law” rules of procedure and proof. A second purpose is to expose the public performative elements of legal procedures, concentrating especially on the ceremonial of the last great judicial circuits of Edward I’s reign and arbitration proceedings in 14th-century Marseille. A third purpose is to examine the highly self-aware literary construction of legal texts and argumentation (for example, Beaumanoir’s Coutumes de Beauvaisis), and some representations of law in literature (such as the English Song of Trailbaston and probably some French fabliaux). Most readings will be available in English or available in English translation.

 

Medieval Sacred Kingship: Embodied Power and the Divine in Europe and Africa 500-1500

Course/Section: History 100U / Global Studies 140
Location
: 108 Wheeler
Time
: Tu-Th 11-12:29 pm
Instructor
: Miller, Maureen C

If contemporary popular culture is any guide, we are fascinated by rulers with super-human abilities: from Black Panther's King T'Challa to Aragorn's foresight and healing power, sovereigns with special gifts loom large in our imaginary realms. This course explores the historical origins of ideas about sacred rulers during the centuries usually called "medieval" (c. 500-1500).  It will compare the development of Christian sacred kingship in Western Europe—the idea that sovereigns ruled by "divine right"—with the influence of Islam on ideas and practices of rulership in several African kingdoms.  In both cases, the impact of indigenous "tribal" beliefs and practices on the acceptance and development of Abrahamic faiths will be considered.  What relations between rulers and the sacred are attested?  What kinds of divine powers are attributed to kings and how are they related to their earthly, political authority?  How were power and holiness mobilized in the creation of early states?  Close reading and analysis of primary sources in translation (such as biographies, letters, chronicles, and traveler's accounts) will be emphasized as well as interpretive frameworks drawn from modern scholarship.  Course requirements include brief analytical responses to primary sources; a take-home midterm examination; and a final exam as scheduled by the Office of the Registrar during the university's final examination week.

 

Italian

Dante Lector

Course/Section: Italian Studies 212
Location
: 6331 Dwinelle
Time
: Th 2-5
Instructor
: Ascoli, Albert R.

Course conducted in English; reading knowledge of Italian or Latin desirable. Consult with instructor if you lack one of these languages or are not a regularly enrolled graduate student. May be taken for 2 or 4 credits.

Course Description: In one of the most famous episodes in Western literature, Francesca da Rimini blames her adulterous love of her husband’s brother, Paolo, for both her violent death and eternal damnation, on an act of reading, solicited by a book and its author (“Galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse” [A pander was the book and he who wrote it]). This episode, however, is just one of the many, many ways that the critical representation of readers and acts of reading, including his own, pervade the Dantean corpus from beginning to end. Our focus in this course, then, will be on Dante’s dialectical construction and reconfiguration of medieval practices of reading in relation to his emerging concept of his own “authoriality.”  Specifically we will follow an itinerary that leads from the first of Dante’s major “hybrid” prose and poetry works, the Vita Nova, through the unfinished treatises of his early exile (Convivio and De Vulgari Eloquentia), to selections from the three canticles of the Commedia. In addition to examining “scenes of reading” like Inferno 5 and Dante’s textual definitions of and engagement with his own readers, we will consider questions concerning the intersections between authorial intentionality and readerly understanding; the self-reading mode of auto-commentary; appropriations and transformations of Scholastic models of lectio; the gender and social standing of implied readers; and others still. Though our primary focus will be on Dante’s texts, we will take into consideration the circulation of those works around the time of their composition, as well as the first generation of the Commedia’s readers.

Course Requirements: Students are expected to attend and participate regularly.  Students taking the course for two credits will do the reading, plus in-class reports and other short assignments.  Students taking the course for four credits will also develop one of their shorter assignments into a final research paper of 6000-7500 words (25-30 pages). 

 

Near Eastern Studies

Synagogues, Cathdrals, and Mosques: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain

Course/Section: TBA
Location
: Barrows 166
Time
: MWF 11-12 pm
Instructor
: Meerkhan, Nasser

Description: This course will focus on the cultural history of Islamic Spain (Al-Andalus) from the Muslim conquest of 711 until the expulsion of Moriscos in 1609. Topics covered include the history, literature, architecture, arts, and music of Al-Andalus. The major aim is for the students to develop an understanding of, and a sensibility to the history, politics, and cultures of Al-Andalus as well as its social and cultural relevance to contemporary audiences.

 

Scandinavian

Viking and Medieval Scandinavia

Course/Section: Scandinavian 123
Location
: TBA
Time
: MWF 10-11
Instructor
: Wellendorf, Jonas

L&S Breadth: Historical Studies

Viking and Medieval Scandinavia will explore developments and trends in the areas of social structure, trade and economy, religion, political organization, culture, literature, and technology during the Viking and Medieval periods (c. 700-1500). The course will cover the Scandinavian homelands (Denmark, Sweden, Norway) as well as the regions settled by Scandinavians during the Viking Age. Developments in Scandinavia will be contextualized against broader trends in Europe and western Asia.

Texts: John Haywood, The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings (1995), Else Roesdahl, The Vikings (2018, 3rd ed.), Anders Winroth, The Age of the Vikings (2014) and a selection of primary sources in translation.

Prerequisites: None.

 

Early Scandinavian Literature: Scandinavian Legendary History

Course/Section: Scandinavian 220
Location
: TBA
Time
: Th 10-1
Instructor
: Wellendorf, Jonas

This seminar will be devoted to the memory of the ancient Scandinavian past as it was cultivated in medieval vernacular saga literature and Latin chronicles of Scandinavian origin. The competing visions of the past offered by these texts will be compared in order to explore the differing aims of the various texts and the historical, social and cultural contexts that gave rise to them. Likely continental and insular sources of inspiration will also be discussed. Recent scholarly works on this topic will be read alongside classical scholarship on the legendary history of Scandinavia and the medieval texts themselves.

The vernacular texts will be read in their original language while the Latin texts will be read in Latin and/or in translation (depending on the preparation of the participants).

Primary readings will include: Hálfs saga, Hervarar saga, Hrólfs saga kraka, Skjǫldunga saga (or what remains of this text), Ragnars saga loðbrókar, Ynglinga saga and on the Latin side Chronicon Lethrense, Historia Norwegie, Sven Aggesen’s Brevis historia regum Dacie and selections from Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum.

Secondary readings in will be in English and in the modern Scandinavian languages.

Prerequisites: At least two semesters of Old Norse language studies (or equivalent).

 

French

Medieval Literature: Continuity and Change in Thirteenth-Century French Literature

Course/Section: French 112B
Location
: TBA
Time
: M 1-4 pm
Instructor
: Hult, David

This course provides an introduction to medieval French literature, starting with some of the most important courtly works of the late twelfth century and tracing their adapations in selected major works of the thirteenth century.  Among the topics will be the nature and appearance of courtly poetry, the invention of romantic love, the transmission of Celtic themes in the matière de Bretagne, the legend of King Arthur and the myth of the Grail, the early comic traditions, and early theater.  Some work will be done on medieval manuscripts and the transmission of these texts (including a session viewing manuscripts in the Bancroft Library). Most of the texts will be read in modern French, but instruction in the Old French language will be included and key passages will be read in their original linguistic form.