Fall 2012 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.


Readings in Middle English: Middle English in Multilingual Manuscripts

Course/Section: English 203

Times: W 3-6 PM
Instructor: Miller, Jennifer

 This course will consider the development of an archive of English writing in the trilingual post-Conquest period, attending especially to 1) the ways in which languages are potentially distinctive or distinguishable rhetorical and aesthetic categories for contemporary scribes and readers (and thus for authors alert to the conditions of their own reception), and how and why this matters for an ongoing literary history; 2) the ways in which post-Conquest vernacular formulations are dependent, in their composition and reception, upon multilingual conversations inside and outside of the codices in which they survive; and 3) the ways in which English texts talk to each other across and through the multilingual conversations in which they are otherwise engaged.  Among the codices under discussion will be London, British  Library, MSS Cotton Caligula A.ix and Harley 2253; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MSS Bodley 34, Digby 86, and Laud Misc. 108; and Oxford, Jesus College, MS 29.



Reading and Interpretation of Old French Texts

Course/Section:  French 211A
Location:  TBA (but probably 4226 Dwinelle)
Time:  T 1-4 PM
Instruction:  Hult, David

Introduction to the study of medieval French language and literature of the 12th and 13th 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.

Readings: 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 for French graduate students.

The Philological Tradition

Course/Section: French/Spanish/Italian C203
Location: TBA
Times: TBA
Instructor: Navarrete, Ignacio

This course will examine the contributions of the philological tradition to the study of the literature  of the Romance languages. For the first few weeks, the instructor will present the working method of a major scholar of the 19th-20th centuries who based his or her approach to literature on a philological or linguistic method. After the first few weeks, participants in the seminar will be responsible for the work of a chosen scholar or critic, including assigning readings to the class, identifying the principal characteristics of this scholar’s work, and evaluating the legacy of the approach. At the end of the semester each student should present a research paper reflecting the seminar presentation and the feedback received from the other seminar participants. To give us a common text for discussion, everyone in the class will read short literary selections including “El amante liberal” by Cervantes, and Le grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier.




Course/Section: German 273
5303 Dwinelle
T 3-5 p.m.
Rauch, Irmengard

Study of the orthography, phonology, morphology, syntax, and lexicon of the earliest Germanic dialect with a sizeable corpus. The Indo-European origins of the Gothic language as well as the relationship with North and West Germanic are considered.  The cultural environment in which Bishop Wulfila translated the Scriptures in the fourth century is discussed. Translations of texts include, among others, the newly found leaf of the Codex Argenteus and the Skeireins.  No prerequisites.



Topics in Ancient History: (Roman) North Africa from 300-500 CE

Course/Section: History 280
Elm, Susanna

North Africa has long been considered a space apart in the Western Roman empire, not least because of its long periods of peace and prosperity.  As Brent Shaw’s 2011 book on Sacred Violence stresses, however, peace and prosperity were achieved in a context of strive. What then was going on in this province? What does recent research, including archaeological research tell us? How did this part of the empire transform itself into a Christian part, and what are the repercussions? And how different was Africa? Tracing the history of the region between (roughly) the rule of Diocletian and the end of the Vandals should shed some light on a number of important questions, from rural settlements to the decline of Rome – even if, inevitably, the figure of Augustine will tower over all else.

Histories of Medieval Christianity

Course/Section: History 280
Miller, Maureen C.

This seminar introduces graduate students both to classics in the field of religious history and to recent new approaches to the history of medieval Christianity.  Although spanning the entire medieval millennium (500-1500), the course will give most attention to the central and later Middle Ages where the most innovative work on Christian history has focused.  Topics include the Christianization of Europe, new religious movements during the central and later Middle Ages, spirituality and religious practices, the definition and persecution of heresy, historical attempts to assess norms of belief and practice, and inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of medieval Christianity.

Reading Leo the Deacon

Course/Section: History 285B, Section 002
2223 Dwinelle
Times: Th 3-5 
Mavroudi, Maria

The course will concentrate on reading closely (in Greek) the History of the 10th-century historian Leo the Deacon. Leo’s literary style continues the tradition of ancient historiography and his closest model is the work of the 6th-century historian Agathias. His narrative covers events that transpired in the second half of the 10th century. Besides experience in analyzing a primary source, the course will offer practice in reading Greek (from a printed edition and from Greek manuscripts). Attention will be paid to the manuscript tradition of the text, as well as to the history of its editions. As a result, students will gain some experience in Greek paleography and the problems of editing texts.


History of Art (and Near Eastern Studies)

The Sacred and the Arts from the Ancient Near East to the Late Antique Mediterranean

Course/Section: HA/NES C220
W 9-12
Angelova, Diliana and Marian Feldman

This seminar will be address cross-cultural and “longue durée” concerns regarding ritual and the sacred in the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean world from the early periods in Mesopotamia to the Late Antique (c. 500 CE). We will take as our initial focus several case studies drawn from both the Ancient Near Eastern and Late Antique worlds to serve as springboards for discussion. These case studies will range from landscapes and urban spaces, to individual architectural structures, to images and forms. Topics that will be touched on in the course include spiritual seeing and visuality, mysticism and sacred architecture, visual exegesis, icons and their meanings, material and visual aspects of ritual practice, and the intertwining of the sacred with collective memory and communal identity.

This seminar will fulfill the interdisciplinary seminar requirement for the AHMA program.


Italian Studies

Dante and the Season of the “Canzone”

Course/Section: Italian Studies 212A: Seminar in Dante
6331 Dwinelle
W 2-5 p.m.
Ascoli, Albert R.

 In the early period of his exile, Dante Alighieri wrote two works which promoted the “canzone” as the noblest vernacular poetic form: the De Vulgari Eloquentia and Convivio, which drew on and redefined a series of works which the author had been composing since the early 1290’s and which he projected as the focus of future efforts.  While Dante subsequently abandoned the canzone form in favor of the Commedia, leaving both of the above-mentioned treatises incomplete, there is no doubt that the canzone played a central role in his developing ambitions for a formally and conceptually sophisticated vernacular literature capable of rivaling Latin.  In this course we will read the surviving canzoni on their own terms, as they are integrated into the composite prosimetrum works from Vita Nova to the DVE and CV, and as they are recalled in explicit and implicit palinodic allusion in the Commedia itself.  Among the topics to be addressed will be the role played by the canzoni in the ongoing process of “authorizing” Dante and the Italian vernacular; the interactions between poetry and prose; the special cluster of poems known as the “rime petrose”; Dante’s supposed dialogue with Guido Cavalcani’s canzone, “Donna me prega,”; the controversies surrounding the dating and editing of the canzoni as recently revived by Teodolinda Barolini; and so on.

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 write a final research paper of 6000-7500 words (25-30 pages). Reading Knowledge of Italian Required (Latin desirable).  Course Conducted in English.  May be taken for 2 or 4 credits.

Readings: (Required) Dante Alighieri, Vita Nuova; Convivio; De Vulgari Eloquentia; Rime; Commedia (selections); Guido Cavalcanti, “Donna me prega”.  (Optional) A. R. Ascoli, Dante and the Making of a Modern Author; R. Durling and R. Martinez, Time and the Crystal.


Scandinavian Studies

Old Norse

Course/section: Scandinavian 201A (4 units)
Location: 6415 Dwinelle
Times: TTh 3:30-5
Instructor: 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 acquiring 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 most Old Norse prose with the aid of a dictionary.

Early Scandinavian Literature: The Poetic Edda

Course/Section: Scandin 220, Section 1
6415 Dwinelle
W 3-6 p.m.
Lindow, John

This seminar will focus on the Poetic Edda as a whole: that is, its composition, internal indications of structure, editorial choices, and the like. We will consider other treatments of the same or similar material, both within and, if students wish, outside of Old Norse.

We will work with photocopies of the manuscript pages; students should also use a printed edition of their choice.

Beyond the Edda, we will read closely representative poems and, as noted above, ancillary material such as poems from the "Eddica Minora," eddic-skaldic verse, Völsunga saga, Snorra Edda, and perhaps alliterative poetry from outside the North. Although much of the secondary literature is in German or Scandinavian, it will be possible to participate and contribute without a reading ability of those languages.

Prerequisite: one semester of Old Norse-Icelandic.


Also of Interest:


Celtic Studies

Middle Welsh Texts & Manuscripts

Course/Section:  Celtic Studies 146B
6307 Dwinelle
TTh 9:30-11 a.m.
Rejhon, Annalee

A selection of medieval Welsh prose and poetry will be read with a focus on King Arthur and on Middle Welsh translations of Anglo-Norman French works.  These works will be examined in the context of the medieval Welsh manuscripts that preserve them.  The course will provide an introduction to the nature and history of the corpus of extant medieval Welsh manuscripts and to methods for editing them as well as an examination of the cultural interface between Welsh and French traditions in medieval Britain.

In this regard selections will be read from Ystoria Bown de Hamtwn [The Tale of Boun de Hamtone] and from Cân Rolant, the Welsh version of the Song of Roland.  The Arthurian texts will include selections from Culhwch and Olwen, the earliest Arthurian tale in the vernacular, Brut y Brenhinedd [History of the Kings], the Welsh version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the native Arthurian tale, Breudwyt Ronabwy [the Dream of Rhonabwy], the Welsh grail text Peredur, the counterpart of Chrétien de Troyes’ Old French Perceval, and the early Arthurian poems, “Pa gur” [What Man (the Gatekeeper)], and “Preiddeu Annwn” [Spoils of the Otherworld]. The latest critical treatments of these works in their cultural context will be covered in lectures.  Texts will be read in Middle Welsh, both in edited and manuscript versions, the latter made available in a Reader from microfilm or online copies.  In-class translations will normally form part of each class.

Course Requirements: a midterm and final exam plus the preparation of a short transcription and edition of part of a manuscript of one of the texts read in class.

Prerequisites:  CS146A or permission of the instructor.


Comparative Literature

Cultures of Desire: Medieval Literatures on Love

Course/Section: Comp Lit 152
TTh 3:30-5 p.m.
Bezner, Frank

In this course we will read a number of seminal texts from one of the most innovative, multi-dimensional, aesthetically complex, and lasting literary traditions in the European Middle Ages: the literature on love (or, as often, but misleadingly labeled, “courtly love”). Exploring this rich tradition via different genres, we will read vernacular and Latin lyrics (e.g. Troubadour poetry, German Minnesang and Carmina Burana); vernacular romances (e.g. Lancelot, Erec, and Tristan); and theoretical or more experimental treatises on love (Dante).  In reading and comparing these texts we will

1. engage in literary analysis (form, imagery, recurrent elements, principal ideas, beginnings / ends, construction of a speaker/’I’, performance), and the rhetorics of love;

2. discuss questions of gender and emotionality implied in our texts

3. explore the intersections of love literature and other discourses (medical, theological, legal) and discuss the relationship between our texts and the complex intellectual and social milieus in which they originated;

4. discuss a number of scholarly approaches to the problem.

As no familiarity with medieval literature is required, we will discuss a number of basic aspects of medieval literary culture, among them: concepts of authorship, literary institutions, manuscripts, and the performance of literature. In consequence, the course can also be attended as an introduction into medieval literature.

 There will be some lecturing, but most classes will consist of close-readings and discussions of texts read at home. Two papers and minor writing assignments. All texts will be read in translations (and/or bilingual editions) and will be made available in a course reader.

Comparative Mythology:  Celtic, Norse, and Greek

Course/Section:  Comp Lit 165 
   123  Dwinelle
  TTh 2-3:30 p.m.
  Rejhon, Annalee

A study of Indo-European mythology as it is preserved in some of the earliest myth texts in Celtic, Norse, and Greek literatures.  The meaning of myth will be examined and compared from culture to culture to see how this meaning may shed light on the ethos of each society as it is reflected in its literary works.  The role of oral tradition in the preservation of early myth will also be explored.  The Celtic texts that will be read are the Irish Second Battle of Mag Tuired and The Táin, and in Welsh, the tales of Lludd and Llefelys and Math; the Norse texts will include Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, the Ynglinga Saga, and the Poetic Edda; the Greek texts are Hesiod’s Theogony and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.  All texts will be available in English translation.

Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

No prerequisites.



Introduction to Old English

Course/Section: English 104, section 1
Location: 110 Barrows
Times: TTh 12:30-2 p.m.
Instructor: O’Brien O’Keeffe, Katherine

Canst þu þis gewrit understandan? Want to? “Introduction to Old English” will give you the tools to read a wide variety of writings from among the earliest recorded texts in the English language. What is there to read?  We will look at some of the best kept secrets in (Old) English—short heroic poems, accounts of war, poems of meditation and elegies, history, saints’ lives, and romance—and get a taste of the curious (recipes, charms, prognostications) as well as the humorous (riddles). To complement our work with these Old English texts we’ll be using on-line and library resources to learn about the material culture of Anglo-Saxon England. With these resources we can also experiment with deciphering the texts as they appear in their manuscripts and delve into the mysteries of Old English runes.  While we work on language in the beginning of the course we will also be reading and discussing the texts. Once you are up and running with the language, the rest of the course will provide practical experience in reading and discussing Old English works on a range of topics. In-class discussion will cover questions of cultural difference, translation, subjectivity, and otherness.

No prior experience with Old or Middle English is necessary for this course.

Graduate students may enroll in this class, and will be expected to do additional intensive work for graduate credit.

Texts: Marsden, Richard. The Cambridge Old English Reader. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pb.  ISBN: 0-521-45612-6.  
McGillivray, Murray.  A Gentle Introduction to Old English. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview Press, 2011. Pb.   ISBN: 978-155111-841-3.


History of Art

Introduction to Medieval Art

Course/Section: HA 51 Lecture Course
 102 Moffitt
 MWF 9-10 a.m.
 Fricke, Beate

A selective, thematic exploration of the visual arts from the decline of the Roman empire to the beginnings of Early Modern period. The emergence of new artistic media, subject matter, and strategies of making and viewing will be discussed against the ever-shifting historical circumstances of medieval Europe. 

Emphasis will be placed on the methods of interpreting the works, especially in relation to then-current social practices and cultural values.

All texts and further materials will be made available in a course reader (on bspace).

Albrecht Dürer

Course/Section: HA 192 Undergraduate Seminar (Medieval/Renaissance)
Location: 425 Doe Library
Times: F 1-4 p.m.
Instructor: Fricke, Beate

Albrecht Dürer (1471 - 1528) was one of the greatest German painters and printmakers. His vast oeuvre includes altarpieces, portraits and self-portraits, copper engravings, wood-cuts and several theoretical tracts dealing with geometry, perspective and the human roportion.  Stemming from Nuremberg, he travelled through Europe and was well known as artist well as mathematician, inventor, collector and art theorist. On his travels through Europe he got in touch with famous scholars and artists, worked for important kings and saw the Aztec treasure sent to Charles V by Hernán Cortés. His artistic work gained fame all over Europe through his own engravings and woodcuts. Soon his works were also copied as prints and sold by other artists. This provoked an early law suit regarding the ownership of copy-right for a work of art.  

The seminar is an introduction not only to Dürer's work but also to the art and culture of Northern Renaissance. Emphasis will be placed on the methods of interpreting the works, especially in relation to then-current social practices and cultural values.



Latin Literature of the Renaissance (Neo-Latin)

Course/Section: Latin 140
Location: TBA
Times: TTh 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Instructor: Bezner, Frank

This course explores one of the most creative and important periods in post-classical Latin literature and literary culture: the epoch of humanists, humanism and the subsequent "respublica litterarum" of the 16th and 17th centuries. We will first read extracts from Petrarch's Latin works, then focus for about a month on literary works produced in (basically) 15th-century Florence (Salutati, Bruni, Pico, Poliziano). In the last third of the course we will explore some - mainly poetic - genres (e.g. love poetry by Johannes Secundus; Milton’s Latin poems; neo-Latin epics; and some early-modern philology).

Emphasis is on translation and interpretation, but there will be a number of introductory or summarizing mini-lectures on single authors, contexts, or more general problems as imitation and intertextuality; humanist style(s); humanist philology; modern interpretations of humanism etc. We will also visit the Bancroft library twice during the course and look at humanist manuscripts (including the single witness of an early work by Petrarch!) and, respectively, early-printed books (mostly first editions of Classical authors). Altogether, the course will attempt to be an intellectual history of Renaissance culture via the reading of key literary works.

The course is aimed at diverse audiences. Classicists will be able to study the reception of classical literature in the early-modern period, a period crucial for the emergence of a ‘modern’ conception of ‘the Classics’; students of vernacular literatures will be able to study the Latin counterparts (and often foundations) of vernacular humanist culture; and early modernists from disciplines as History or Art History will have the opportunity to explore the intellectual undercurrents of early-modern institutions and/or artistic creation.

Requirements: Latin 100 or proven competence at this level. All texts will be made available in a reader.



Topics in the History of European and American Music: Song, Self, and Community in the Later Middle Ages

Course/Section: Music 128
125 Morrison
TTh 2-3:30 p.m.
Curran, Sean

How did music help to produce feeling selves in the later middle ages, and the communities to which they belonged?  Starting in the twelfth century, notated lyrics begin to declare that they are the subjective expression of their singers, while many cherished songs first sung in the middle ages (especially holiday songs) survive in lived practice to this day.  In this course, we will explore a variety of medieval song repertories, “sacred” and “secular,” Latin and vernacular, to ask how songs worked as technologies permitting felt experience to be shared by many.  Monks and nuns, troubadours and trouvères, knights and townspeople all have parts to play in the history we will explore, as we assess what music can offer the study of medieval emotions and their social life.

By the end of the course, students can expect to have a broad knowledge of the styles and situations in which later medieval songs might have been heard; of the kinds of sources from which they can now be reconstructed; of the historiographical problems involved in the modern performance of old music; and of current scholarly approaches to the study of musical and affective experience in the middle ages and beyond.

Some knowledge of modern musical notation is desirable, but not essential. Any student interested in medieval literature or culture is welcome, regardless of major. Each week, a short reading assignment and a selection of songs will serve as the basis for classroom discussion.  We will explore some repertories using our own voices – though you certainly do not have to be a trained singer to attend!  All texts will be given in English translation.  Assessment will include one midterm exam and one final.  A short paper of 5-7 pages will be required in the middle of the semester, followed by a final paper of 8-12 pages.  The papers may address any topic related to the course, subject to approval by the instructor.

No prerequisites.