Fall 2020

 

Chinese

Graduate courses:

Texts on the Civilization of Medieval China

Course/Section: Chinese 234
Location
: TBA
Time
: Th 2-5
Instructor
Paula M. Varsano

Description coming soon.

 

Celtic Studies

Undergraduate courses:

Medieval Celtic Culture

Course/Section: Celtic 128
Location
: 79 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: MWF 12-1
Instructor
: Thomas Walsh

Description coming soon.

 

Celtic Mythology and Oral Tradition

Course/Section: Celtic 168
Location
: 79 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: MWF 12-1
Instructor
: Annalee Rejhon

The course will examine the mythology of the Celts—their gods, goddesses, festivals, and belief systems—as it is reflected in medieval Irish and Welsh texts. Following a short presentation of introductory material regarding the history and civilization of the early Celts, the course will begin with the early Irish tale known as The Second Battle of Mag Tuired, a core mythological tale that best exemplifies the pattern of mythological deities and belief systems that pertain to varying degrees in other Celtic tales. These tales will include in Irish, the Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel, the Tale of Macc Da Thó’s Pig, Bricriu’s Feast, the Wooing of Etaín, the Dream of Oengus, the Wasting Sickness of CúChulaind, the Cattle Raid of Fróech, and the Táin, and in Welsh, the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Culhwch and Olwen, Lludd and Llefelys, the Tale of Gwion Bach and the Tale of Taliesin, and the poems, “What Man the Gatekeeper” and “The Spoils of the Otherworld.” All the readings are in English translation. Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

 

English

Undergraduate courses:

Research Seminar: Medieval Sexuality

Course/Section: English 190
Location
: 233 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: MWF 12-1
Instructor
: Jennifer Miller

Description coming soon.

 

Special Topics: The Age of Crisis

Course/Section: English 166
Location
: 229 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: T-Th 3:30-5
Instructor
: Spencer Strub

There was a recurring plague, a changing climate, a never-ending war, a failed revolution and a cruel reaction, paranoia and persecution, political strife and inept leadership and a widespread sense that everything had gone wrong and could never be fixed again: fourteenth-century Engand might have been a mess, but it's our kind of mess. The silver lining? During this period of crisis, a public eager to read Engish literature emerged. The literary corpus that spoke to this public—poems dedicated to protest, mourning, and joyous invention—is as inventive and resilient as any in the language. This class will explore how late medieval poets engaged with the tumultuous world around them. We will study the forms that represented contemporary events openly or in code, from antifraternal satire to dream visions and personification allegories, while examining the assumptions about gender, race, nature, and religious belief that distinguished their age of crisis from our own. Our goal is to understand the fourteenth century on its own terms. But the class will not shy away from anachronism: we might learn some lessons in surviving tough times. Texts include: Middle English Political Writings, ed. Dean (TEAMS); William Langland, Piers Plowman B, ed. Robertson and Shepherd (Norton); Geoffrey Chaucer, Dream Visions and Other Poems, ed. Lynch (Norton)

 

German

Graduate courses:

Mysticism and Modernity

Course/Section: German 205/Comparative Literature 215 (room share)
Location
: 282 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: Thu 2-5
Instructor
: Niklaus Largier

So-called "mystical" forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, Benjamin, and Derrida; and from Novalis to Musil, Kafka, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we will read and discuss key texts written by some of the most significant medieval figures in this tradition. We will focus on forms and styles of writing; problems of negative and affirmative theology; and configurations of speculative, affective, and sensual moments. During a second phase of the seminar we will turn our attention to baroque mysticism (Angelus Silesius and Jacob Böhme). Based on the class discussion and on individual student interests, we will then explore the ways how these texts have been read by 19th and 20th century authors and how they allow us to think about the formation and transformation of modern concepts of the sacred, subjectivity, affect, critique, and agency. Depending on student interests, we will decide on a final version of the syllabus at the first meeting of class. All texts will be available in original languages and in English translation.

 

History of the German Language

Course/Section: German 270
Location
: 282 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: Tu 11-1
Instructor
: Rauch, Irmengard

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

 

Old High German 

Course/Section: German 276
Location
: 282 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: Tu 1-3
Instructor
: Rauch, Irmengard

Reading of poetic and prose texts in Old High German; passages selected to represent a broad scope of chronology, geography, and genre in eighth- to eleventh-century German. Study of the cultural dynamics of the Old High German period as reflected in varying levels of usage. Included is socio-political standing which is closely linked to the legal codes of the era, e.g., OHG degan ‘thane’ can refer to concepts as varied as ‘boy’, ‘warrior’, or ‘vassal’. Another level of usage to be considered is travel guides / literature which reveal how Old High German was actually spoken. Old High German offers a medley of dialects. No prerequisites.

 

History

Graduate courses:

Introduction to Byzantine studies

Course/Section: HIST 280B/285
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Mavroudi, Maria

This seminar will offer both a general introduction to and an investigation of special topics within Byzantine studies.  The weekly seminar discussions will be organized as follows: weeks 1-9 covered the period from the 7th until the 15th centuries in chronological sequence.  Students will be expected to become familiar with the sequence of events in Byzantine history through reading G. Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State; at the same time,  through reading additional secondary bibliography, they will be expected to think about particular problems that modern historians face in their attempt to study and interpret these events. Weeks 10-15 will be dedicated to particular aspects of Byzantine studies: the survival of Byzantine culture after the political end of the empire in 1453; Byzantium and the Slavs; Byzantine economy; Byzantine learned and vernacular literature; Byzantine epic poetry and the expression of collective identity, in the Middle Ages and now; the study of Byzantine art; Byzantine studies as a modern discipline.

Students taking this seminar as 285 will be required to identify a research topic early in the semester, on which they will present a research report and produce a final paper. 

 

Undergraduate courses:

Dream Interpretation Before Freud

Course/Section: HIST 103
Location
: TBA
Time
: TBA
Instructor
: Mavroudi, Maria

At the dawn of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud’s work on the interpretation of dreams provided the foundation of modern psychoanalysis. Freud’s celebrity (in spite of significant later criticism for his views and work) may tempt us to think of him as “the first” truly insightful interpreter of dreams. However, Freud himself acknowledges his awareness of an abundant and much earlier literature going back to Biblical and Graeco-Roman antiquity, where dream interpretation is primarily understood as a method of predicting the future. What did Freud make out of this literature? How did he use it? Do the methods and principles applied to dream interpretation in pre-modern societies have anything in common with those employed by Freud and his successors? The transformation of the pagan Graeco-Roman tradition of dream interpretation by modern psychoanalysis is only the latest in a series of transformations: it had previously been adopted and adapted by Christian Byzantium and medieval Islam. The seminar will explore ancient dream interpretation as both a written and an oral tradition. It will focus on its continuity as well as the changes it underwent in order to serve societies with different religions, languages, political systems, and social structures. The contemporary survival of this tradition in certain parts of the world will also be discussed. Parallels between past and present beliefs and practices regarding dream interpretation will be continuously drawn.

 

Medieval Europe: From the Investiture Conflict to the Fifteenth Century

Course/Section: HIST 280B/285
Location
: Dwinelle 219
Time
: T-Th 12:30-2
Instructor
: Geoffrey Koziol

It seems only fitting that we should devote a course on later medieval Europe to “The Black Death” that wiped out a third of Europe’s total population in the 14th century. We will discuss the causes of the plague, its global context, contemporary attempts to understand it, and its effects on (or reflections in) religion and the economy. We will also discuss the political turmoil of the 14th c., which was probably not linked to the plague but which seems, in historical memory, to be inseparable from it, including the noticeable surge in civil wars and rebellions. In order to gain some purchase on a difficult period, we will concentrate primarily on England and Italy. Among other works, readings include Boccaccio’s Decameron (100 stories told over the course of 10 days by 10 friends “social distancing” from the plague in Florence), contemporary accounts of the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt in England, Dino Compagni’s narrative of civil wars in Florence, and Christine de Pisan’s defense of women in the face of increasingly extreme expressions of misogyny.

 

History of Art

Undergraduate courses:

Giotto to Michelangelo & Beyond

Course/Section: HA 192D
Location
Doe Library 425
Time
: Fri 2-5
Instructor
: Henrike Christiane Lange

This new seminar will engage with questions of modernity and modernities across time and space. Connecting our current location in California in 2020 to different phases of late medieval, early, mid-, and high Renaissance art history, patterns of artistic new beginnings and reformulations of older themes, methods, and practices arise. Particular attention will be paid to epochal breaks and shifts such as the Black Death of 1348 and other catastrophes (plagues, floods, fires) and their respective cultural-artistic responses in defining the periods “before” and “after” a catastrophic event or collective trauma as well as apotropaic images to prevent them in a historical context. While we will study Cimabue, Giotto, Masolino, Masaccio, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Raphael, the actual focus of the course will not be on canonical artists but on the question of their canonical construction as a problem of writing art history. One goal of the seminar is to show these artists embedded in a wider spectrum of lesser known artists and artistic production around them, including architecture, design, sculpture, and arts and crafts. Readings will combine literary, historical, theoretical, and theological texts from the medieval and early modern period up to the Baroque age with scholarly literature from the late nineteenth century up to the present day, giving students an overview of a variety of ways in which the issue of medieval and modern is addressed in the current art historical discourse. 

This course is designed to connect with other and further studies in broad fields including but not limited to Medieval Studies, Renaissance & Early Modern Studies, critical theory, interdisciplinary studies, and literature studies. No previous art history preparation required. Students from non-humanities backgrounds are welcome; please email Prof. Lange to discuss your interest and potential adjustments for non-humanities majors. 

This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical areas (A) and Chronological period (II).

 

Italian

Undergraduate courses:

Inferno (English)

Course/Section: Italian 130A
Location
: Dwinelle 219
Time
: Tu-Th 11-12:30
Instructor
: N/A

An austere ancient authority, a smitten teenage lover, a prophet, an embezzler, a national icon, an unapologetic heretic, a mercenary, and the only truly great poet to have ever lived: Dante has been called many things in the seven hundred years since he began writing, and he continues to attract the interest of a wildly diverse group of readers and commentators. In his medieval masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, Dante irreversibly transformed literary language and perhaps even the way in which our current consciousness perceives the universe. Our course will focus on the first canticle of the Divine Comedy, both the most famous and most infamous: Inferno. Our goal will be to bring Dante’s Hell to life, reconstructing the terrifying landscape and interpreting the complex poetry of a text that continues to resonate with modern audiences as intensely as it did with its medieval public.

Japanese

Undergraduate courses:

Introductory Readings in Japanese Buddhist Texts

Course/Section: Japanese C141/Buddhist Studies C141 (cross-listed)
Location
: Barrows 54
Time
: T-Th 12:30-2
Instructor
: Mark Blum

This course is an introduction to the study of medieval Buddhist literature written in Classical Japanese in its wabun (aka bungo) and kanbun forms (including kakikudashi). The class will read samples from a variety of genres, including material written in China that are read in an idiosyncratic way in Japan. Reading materials will include Chinese translations of Sanskrit and Central Asian Buddhist scriptures, scriptural commentaries written in China and Korea, Japanese subcommentaries on influential Chinese and Korean commentaries, philosophical treatises, hagiography, apologetics, histories, doctrinal letters, preaching texts, and setsuwa literature. This course is intended for students who already have some facility in literary Japanese.


Scandinavian

Graduate courses:

Reading Old Norse romance 

Course/Section: SCAN 220
Location
: 6415 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: W 1-4
Instructor
: Heslop, Kate

Little known today, but immensely popular in the late Middle Ages, the Norse romances are mainly famous for being unreadable: naïve, formulaic, superficial, decadent. A few pioneers considered them from the viewpoint of genre and source studies (Schlauch, Schach, Kalinke), translation practices (Meissner, Barnes, Kalinke), or literary sociology (Glauser, Driscoll). More recent scholarly interventions have focused on such topics as identity, race, gender and sexuality, monstrosity, and intersections of elite and popular learning, or material philology. Few of these studies have much to say about the experience of reading the romances.

This seminar sets out to consider Norse adventure fiction from the perspectives of the phenomenology of reading, narratology and theories of "distant" or "surface" reading. We will read a number of the romances, both translations from other languages and original Norse works, and explore the potential of recent approaches to large literary corpora in unlocking these texts.

Texts will be supplied by the instructor. Reading knowledge of Old Norse is required.

 

Undergraduate courses:

Old Norse Literature

Course/Section: SCAN 125
Location
: 182 Dwinelle Hall
Time
: Tu-Th 12:30-2
Instructor
: Heslop, Kate

Deepen your acquaintance with all things Viking! This course explores the riches of the sagas, the most famous literary genre of medieval Scandinavia. These dramatic stories, full of subtlety, ambivalence and dry humor, invite you to empathize with shield-maidens, homicidal poets, Viking explorers and pagan believers. While the course will emphasize reading, understanding, discussing and writing about the literature of this period, we will also learn about the roots of Scandinavian literature in the Viking Age, and about its material, historical and cultural contexts. Readings will include The Book of the Icelanders, Hrafnkel’s saga, Egil’s saga, The Vinland sagas, and Hervör’s saga, and selections from Heimskringla, The Book of Settlements, and the Prose Edda.

 

Spanish

Undergraduate courses:

Survey of Spanish Literature: Survey Course in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

Course/Section: Spanish 107A
Location
: Barrows 54
Time
: T-Th 2-3:30
Instructor
Ignacio E. Navarrete

This survey course in Medieval and early modern literature will cover the evolution of narrative, lyric, and dramatic genres from the 13th century to Calderón de la Barca in the 17th, and put them in the context of the social transformations of their time, particularly the complex relationships between Christian Spain and its Jewish and Muslim counterparts. Works and authors to be studied include a Medieval epic, Arabic-derived frame tales, La Celestina, Lazarillo de Tormes, poems from the oral ballad tradition and by the Marqués de Santillana, Garcilaso de la Vega, Fray Luis de Leon, San Juan de la Cruz, Góngora and Quevedo; two short novels by Cervantes and his contemporary María de Zayas, and plays by Calderón and his contemporary Ana Caro. Students will write two short, 3-4 page papers and take two midterms and a final.