Spring 2015 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. 

Medieval Studies

Introduction to Research Materials and Methods

Course: Medieval Studies 200

Location: Wheeler 202

Time: M 4-7

Instructor: O’Brien O’Keeffe, Katherine

Medieval Studies 200 is a theme-oriented pro-seminar which introduces students pursuing the concurrent Ph.D. to problems in interdisciplinary research, contemporary approaches to cross-disciplinary thinking, bibliographical resources within and crossing traditional disciplines, and styles of argumentation in medieval studies. The theme for Medieval Studies 200 in spring 2015 will be “corporeality,” broadly construed. This theme is designed to allow wide interpretation to address the specifics of disciplinary work for individual students and the interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies. The semester project will be adapted to the individual: students in their first year of graduate work will be expected to work on a publishable article; students in the second year of graduate work will be working on their field statement (see the website for the requirements for the concurrent degree). I am delighted that the proseminar will have two distinguished guest seminar-leaders. Professor Rachel Fulton Brown, Department of History, University of Chicago, and Christopher Baswell, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University and Anne Whitney Olin Professor of English, Barnard College,who will present their most recent research as it illustrates the conduct of medieval studies.

Readings will be available on b-Space.

Medieval Studies 200 is required for the concurrent degree in Medieval Studies.


Comparative Literature

Entangled Subjects. A Genealogy of Medieval (Latin) Literature on Desire

Course/Section: CL 212

Location: 225 Dwinelle

Time: Th 3-6

Instructor: Bezner, Frank

This course is meant as a comparative exploration of (mostly) Latin Medieval texts that deal with the topic of love and desire – a poorly studied genre that is still in search of valuable conceptual models able to address its complex aesthetics; negotiation of related discourses (such as medicine and philosophy); and relation to the institutional, social, and political constellations from which it emerged. Our course is thus basically meant as a critical laboratory in which we will analyze how our texts relate to the specific institutional, political, intellectual, and discursive contexts in which they were produced;re-evaluate the aesthetic dynamicoperating in the genre (topoi; entries, endings, images; temporality and spatiality; sound effects; ambiguity; implicit poetics;and complicate the ‘classicism’ behind medieval Latin love literature which was not only influenced by Ovid, but also by author such as Horace or Martianus Capella.As indicated by the title of the course, we will pay particular attention to the construction of subjectivity and interiority in and by our texts: a question that we will less pursue in terms of an emphatic concept of a “consciousness of the self” (Morris, Benton, Moser) than against the backdrop of those normative practices, political agendas, and institutional dynamics that created the inner space of interiority. By creating literary ego-subjects, we will argue, medieval Latin literary texts negotiate both the normative pressure faced by clerics in the 11th/12th century and, on a more fundamental level, the anthropological implications related to the concept of an inner space constructed as a realm of self-control and self-discipline directed at one’s own sexuality.

Texts to be read include: love poems from the Carmina Burana; the correspondence of Abelard and Heloise; the so-called ‘Loire Poets’ (Baudri of Bourgeuil, Marbod of Rennes); Peter of Blois; the autobiography of Guibert of Nogent; German Minnesang; Troubadour poetry.

All texts will be made available in the original and in reliable translations. Knowledge of the Latin language is strongly recommended. The course is open to students from all medieval disciplines including ‘modernists’ who want to explore unfamiliar pre-modern terrain. The course will also be responsive to students’ interests and suggestions.


Judgment in Early Medieval Literature

Course/Section: English 203/3

Location: 305 Wheeler

Time: W 11-2

Instructor: Thornbury, Emily V.

Judgment--alternately or simultaneously a mental faculty, abstract entity, virtue, void, or threat--pervades medieval literature and thought. Focusing particularly (though not exclusively) on Anglo-Saxon England, in this seminar we will attempt to understand judgment's varied forms in the early Middle Ages, and will work toward developing a critical discourse adequate to the topic and period. Our investigations will include aesthetic judgment; wisdom and ideas of kingship; hermeneutics; and judgment’s role in joining the individual and the communal. We will be reading modern critical and philosophical works alongside medieval ones; primary texts will include Juliana; Daniel; the Solomon and Saturn and Soul and Body dialogues; Maxims I; Judgment Day poems in Old English and Latin, including Christ III; and the Fonthill Letter. Work for the course will entail in-class translation, as well as presentations and a final conference-length paper.

Prerequisite: Strong reading knowledge of Old English.

Book List:  Arendt, Hannah: Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy; Kant, Immanuel: Critique of Judgment

Recommended: Hall, J.R. Clark: A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary

Other Readings and Media: A photocopied course pack.



Chrétien de Troyes and the French Tradition of King Arthur

Course: French 210 

Location: 4226 Dwinelle

Time: M 1-4

Instructor: Hult, David

This course will be centered upon detailed readings of the five Arthurian romances of the great twelfth-century romancer Chrétien de Troyes, but with an aim to understanding the development of the Arthurian legend from its most definitive early version in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, through Wace’s Old French Roman de Brut, to the ultimate codification of the legend in the cyclical prose Lancelot.  We will explore both classic and more recent interpretations of the romances as well as other issues such as manuscript contexts and Chrétien’s influence both in France and elsewhere in Europe.  Works to be read will include, in addition to those mentioned above, the Quest of the Holy Grail and The Death of King Arthur.  Works will be read in bilingual editions (Old French/Modern French) and/or modern French translation.  Prior knowledge of Old French is not required. 

Required texts:  Chrétien de Troyes, Romans (Livre de Poche, «La Pochothèque», Paris, 1994); La Quête du Saint Graal, ed. F. Bogdanow («Lettres gothiques»); La Mort du roi Arthur, ed. D. Hult («Lettres gothiques»).



Augustine of Hippo: The City of God

Course: History 280/285

Location: 204 Wheeler

Time: Th 10-12

Instructor: Elm, Susanna

This course will focus on Augustine of Hippo’s City of God, De Civitate Dei, in its North African context. We will plan to read the entire work (in translation, but with the Latin at our side) emphasizing three avenues of approach (or three themes).

  1. Citizenship and status: How does Augustine understand and construct citizenship? This theme will require a fairly in-depth investigation of issues of citizenship debated at the time; that is, the tax implications, privileges and obligations resulting from one’s status and similar issues pertaining to economic history.
  2. Display: How does Augustine describe display? What forms of display do appear? What might they mean? What notions of masculinity (gender in general but masculinity foremost) are called upon in Augustine’s description of display?
  3. History: Is the City of God a history? What notions of historiography are employed in reaching an answer to that question? What are the implications?

 The course will require in-class presentations of individual books of the CD and a final paper.


Writing History in the Middle Ages

Course: History 280B/285B

Location: TBA

Time: TBA

Instructor: Koziol, Geoffrey 

The amount of history written in the European Middle Ages is staggering, dwarfing the number histories from contemporary Byzantium, China, and Islam. The diversity of the genres and the creativity with which writers adapted them is equally staggering. There are Latin histories and vernacular histories, prose histories and verse histories. There are histories of kingdoms and peoples, of cities, monasteries, and bishoprics, histories of reigns, histories of events, histories of the world and histories of individual families, even histories of fictions (e.g., Geoffrey of Monmouth's history of Arthur). Sometimes people (Salimbene, for instance) seem to write history just because they want to write history without caring much whether it's a history of anything at all. Because historians and literary scholars need to specialize in order to get any research done, too often they use particular histories relevant to their work without much awareness of what is or is not distinctive about them, and they make broad generalizations drawn from outmoded scholarship or limited reading. The purpose of this course is simply to read a small but representative sample of interesting histories from the middle ages, along with a small but representative selection of the most important recent scholarship. We will begin with four fundamental histories: Eusebius' History of the Church; Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People; the Royal Frankish  Annals; and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (concentrating especially on the "A" version). Because students are likely to have quite varied interests and needs, subsequent readings will be determined in the first class, according to a consensus within the class. I anticipate that the majority of the readings after the first four will be drawn from the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries (e.g., choosing from among Raoul Glaber, Lampert of Hersfeld, Berthold of Reichenau, Suger of Saint-Denis, Orderic Vitalis, Galbert of Bruges, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Henry of Huntingdon, Roger of Wendoever, Otto of Freising, Matthew Paris, Salimbene…).

Almost all readings will be in English translation. Students who wish to take the seminar as a 285 will need to write a paper that demonstrates research ability using research languages. Much of the most important scholarship is in German, though only two such works will be assigned. For students who cannot read German, alternative assignments in French will be arranged.


History of Art

Stronach Travel Seminar: Istanbul - The City and its Art from Antiquity to the Present

Course: History of Art 291

Location: Doe 308B

Time: M 9-12 

Instructor: Angelova, Diliana and Fricke, Beate

This seminar seeks to examine the urban development, art, and architecture of Istanbul, from its origins as a modest Greek colony in the seventh c. BCE to the present- day megapolis of close to 14 million people. Continuously inhabited for thousands of years and now one of the largest cities in the world, this city sitting between Europe and Asia, was in addition the capital of two vast empires, one Christian (Byzantium) and one Muslim (Ottoman). Its urban fabric, museums, buildings and archaeological remains offer a unique perspective into the arts, architecture, and urban development of thousands years of human history: Greek and Roman, Byzantine and western medieval, Ottoman, and modern and contemporary. 

The seminar will have two parts. In the first few weeks, the participants engage in learning in chronological fashion about the history, architecture, and arts of the city. One to two weeks each will be spent on the Ancient, Late Antique, Byzantine, Ottoman, Modern, and Contemporary periods. The readings will be organized around a specific problem, such as: Greek Colonization and Urbanism in the Mediterranean; Alexander and the spread of Hellenic Culture and Art; Building a Capital for a Christian Empire; the Byzantine Churches of Istanbul; the Christian Legacy of Ottoman Architecture; The Architect Sinan and the Making of Ottoman Architecture; Istanbul and the Arts of the Ottoman Empire; Genovese Traders and Western Artists: Istanbul in European Art, Travel Accounts, and Maps; Modernity and Tradition: Palaces on the Bosphorus; and “Raise up the Roof, Builders!”: The Gecekondu shanty towns of Istanbul. 

Please note: Interested students should provide a paragraph explaining their interest, suggest a research topic and how participation in the travel seminar might contribute to their educational goals. Please detail any previous experience with Istanbul, Byzantine Art, Islamic Art, Medieval Art, and Ottoman History. Send this information to Matt Joyce in the Department of History of Art (matt [dot] joyce [at] berkeley [dot] edu).


Italian Studies

Authority in Person: The Commedia and Beyond

Course: Italian Studies 212B

Time: W 2-5

Location: Italian Studies Seminar Room (6331 Dwinelle)

Instructor: Ascoli, Albert R.

This course will be devoted to a study of the latter half of Dante’s career, particular the Divina Commedia (read in its entirety, but with selective emphases), but also the Latin works (letters; Monarchia; Eclogues) of the later years.  Our focus will be on the problematics of poetic authorship (and readership) and political/ecclesiastical authority that emerge full-blown in the period.  This course is, ideally, the continuation of the fall semester seminar on Dante before the Commedia, but may be taken on its own.  Dante’s works will be viewed through the filter of a series of pertinent late medieval contexts: including the emergence of a romance vernacular canon; proto-humanistic valorization of classical Latin literature; the rhetorical, philosophical and theological traditions; the shifting macro- and micro-politico-social order. 

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). 

Course Conducted in English; Reading Knowledge of Italian or Latin Required (May be taken for 2 or 4 credits).

Books: Durling translation of the Commedia; A.R. Ascoli, Dante and the Making of a Modern Author (pbk); Dante Alighieri, Monarchy, ed. Prue Shaw



Introduction to Medieval Latin

Course: Latin 140

Time: TuTh 11-12:30

Location: 109 Wheeler Hall

Instructor: Bezner, Frank

This course is meant as an introduction into the Latin literature written during the Middle Ages. After a brief introductory discussion of the problem of medieval Latin as a (literary and non-literary) language, we will translate and discuss readings from the 5th to the 13th century. These readings were selected in order to illustrate important (and interesting) authors, genres, contexts, and features of medieval Latin literature and literary culture. Texts to be studied include the Peregrinatio Egeriae, a late Ancient travel account to the holy land; Carolingian political poetry written at Charlemagne’s court; religious poetry by Notker of St. Gall; allegorical poetry of the 12th century; hagiographic and monastic literature; satirical and love poems (Carmina Burana). As the course hopes to be responsive to students’ interests, this list may be changed in part. In our readings we will focus on translation and reading, but always discuss institutional contexts and problems of interpretation. Two classes will be held at the Bancroft library where we will be able to work with original medieval manuscripts. Sound knowledge of the basics of Latin grammar and at least some experience with reading (classical or medieval) texts in the original are prerequisites (please email instructor when in doubt). — All texts will be handed out (via a reader or space).



Norse Literature

Course: Scandinavian 201B

Location: 6415 Dwinelle

Time: M 1-4 

Instructor: Wellendorf, Jonas

An introduction to Old Norse literature, comprising reading and discussion of representative sagas and selections from the Eddas. Readings in English and Old Norse.

Texts: Gísla saga, Ynglinga saga, Hálfs saga ok Hálfsrekka, Þorgils saga ok Hafliða, Snorra Edda (Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál), Þrymskviða and Atlakviða.

Old Norse texts, translations of shorter texts, and secondary literature will be made available through bCourses. Students should acquire the following hardcopies:

Edda, trans. Anthony Faulkes, J. M. Dent. ISBN-13: 978-0460876162

The Poetic Edda (second edition), trans. Carolyne Larrington, ISBN-13: 978-0199675340 

Prerequisite:  Scandinavian 201A or the equivalent.


Also of Interest:

Celtic Studies

Celtic Christianity

Course: Celtic Studies 173

Location: TBA

Time: TuTH 2-3:30

Instructor: Rejhon, Annalee

This course will examine the early reception and development of Christianity in Ireland and Britain. Particular attention will be paid to the role that insular pre-Christian Celtic religious systems played in this reception and the conversion to Christian belief.  Lectures and primary works that will be read (complete or in extract) to elucidate this issue will be drawn from wisdom texts, secular and canon law texts, ecclesiastical legislation, penitentials and monastic rules, apocrypha and lyric poetry.  A selection of saints' lives, both Irish and Welsh, with a French connection via St. Martin of Tours, will round out the course.

All texts will be available in English translation and the majority of them available in a Course Reader.  These will include:  the Irish wisdom text, Audacht Morainn [The Testimony of Moran]; Cáin Adamnáin [the law of Adomnan], Cáin Domnaig [the law of Sunday] and Cáin Darí [the law of Dari]; The Irish Penitentials, the "Monastery of Tallaght"; the "Martyrology of Oengus" and the Old Irish poems of Blathmac; The Voyage of St. Brendan, and extracts from the following saints' lives:  Adomnan's Life of Columba, Muirchú's Life of St. Patrick, Cogitosus's Life of St. Brigid, Rhigyfarch's Life of St. David, Lifris's Life of St. Cadog, and Sulpicius's Life of St. Martin.

Course requirements include a midterm and final examination.

No prerequisites, although a basic knowledge of Christianity is required.

Graduate students may take this as a "200" course with permission of the instructor and their graduate advisor.

Introduction to Old and Middle Irish

Course:  Celtic Studies 105A (4 Units)
Location:  6307 Dwinelle
Times:  TuTh 12:30-2
Instructor: Walsh, Thomas  


This introduction to Old and Middle Irish language invites students from all fields to study the earliest recorded vernacular language in medieval Europe.  Our focus is the form of the language from the 6th to the 11th century. Medievalists, Celticists,  historical linguists, literary scholars,  cultural historians, and the randomly curious are most welcome.  Our goal is the reading of texts from early Irish narrative and poetry. We will begin with a detailed introduction to grammar and vocabulary; our reading is guided by texts that lead us through the beginning stage of the language step-by-step; our emphasis will be on mastering the fundamentals necessary to understanding this language.  

Long a mainstay of linguists and literary scholars interested in the earliest periods of an Indo-European language, Old and Middle Irish also attracts those interested in ancient law, folklore, genealogy, history, as well as those who focus their attention on the archaic cultural features of poetics, narrative, lyric, translation, law, religion, social structure, etc. Indeed, the large surviving corpus of medieval Irish language texts includes legal, historical, legendary, genealogical, grammatical, poetic, and religious works.  We are fortunate that this vibrant pre-modern culture has left us much to think about in these and other areas.

Written requirements: Weekly homework assignments and quizzes; a mid-term and a final exam.


De Vries, Ranke. A Student’s Companion to Old Irish Grammar. Forgotten Scholar Press, 2013. ISBN-13 978-0615783109.

Quinn, E.G. Old Irish Workbook, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1975 ISBN 978-0901714084.

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

Strachan, J. ed. Rev. by O. Bergin. Old Irish-Paradigms and Selections from the Old-Irish Glosses (Fourth Edition). Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. 978-0901714350.

Recommended and on reserve:

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

Dictionary of the Irish Language: Compact Edition, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1983, repr. 1990. ISBN 0901714291

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

Note: Students are encouraged to find used copies of these books; supplementary material will be available on reserve and on bCourses.


Comparative Literature

Comparative Mythology: Celtic, Norse, and Greek

Course: Comparative Literature 165

Location: 2070 Valley LSB

Time: TuTH 11-12:30

Instructor: 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.


History of Art

Relics, Reliquaries, and Cult Images. The Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Western Medieval Art

Course:  History of Art 155

Location: 106 Moffitt

Time: TuTh 8-9:30 

Instructor: Fricke, Beate

This lecture course is an introduction to Western medieval art. It explores the origins and transformations of Christian visual culture. It will focus on monumental free-standing sculpture, which largely disappeared from European art for nearly five hundred years as a result of the Christian backlash against the Roman veneration of cult images. During the High Middle Ages monumental free-standing sculpture experienced a revival that has been, and still is, the subject of many fascinating theories and hypotheses.  

This class will analyze the revival of monumental sculpture in the context of liturgy, architecture, materiality of the minor arts and reliquaries, as well as medieval theories on perception. Each class meeting will focus on one specific object and/or text between 800-1400. The course will outline the history of Western image culture, visuality and fiction, taking as its central assumption that images can visualize and suggest ambiguities that could never be revealed in medieval theological discourse.

Readings will include chapters from Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence. A History of the Image before the Era of Art, Chicago 1997; Beate Fricke, Fallen Idols, Risen Saints. The Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Medieval Art, Brepols 2015; The Mind's Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Medieval West, co-edited with Anne-Marie Bouché, Princeton University Press, 2005.


Italian Studies

Dante's Purgatorio and Paradiso (in English)

Course: Italian Studies 130B

Location: TBA

Time: TuTh 9:30-11

Instructor: Botterill, Steven

This close introductory reading of Dante's Purgatorio and Paradiso (the second and third sections of the Divine Comedy) aims to guide readers through a complex and challenging poetic narrative, situate Dante and his work in their intellectual, historical, and cultural context, and discuss questions of ethics, aesthetics, interpretation, and critical practice raised by the enduringly provocative presence of this medieval masterpiece at the beginning of the twenty-first century.  Previous acquaintance with the first section of Dante's trilogy, Inferno, will be found useful but is not indispensable.

Requirements: Students will write three short (2-3 pp) response papers in the first half of the semester; thereafter, in consultation with the instructor, they will devise an individual project on which they will write a research paper.  There will be no midterm or final exam.

Texts: Dante Alighieri, The "Divine Comedy," translated by Allen Mandelbaum (Everyman's Library, ISBN 978-0679433132)

Prerequisites: None



Old Norse Literature 

Course: Scandinavian 125

Location:  TBA

Times: MWF 12-1

Instructor: Heslop, Kate

L&S Breadth:  Arts and Literature

This course is an introduction to the sagas, the most famous literary genre of medieval Scandinavia. 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 Egil’s saga, Hrafnkel’s saga, Eyrbyggja saga, The Vinland sagas, The saga of the Volsungs, Ynglinga saga, and selections from The Book of Settlements and The Book of the Icelanders.


Margaret Clunies Ross, The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse-Icelandic Saga. Cambridge. ISBN 978-0521735209. Required.

The Sagas of Icelanders with a preface by Jane Smiley. Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. ISBN 978-0141000039. Required.

Eyrbyggja Saga, tr. Hermann Pálsson and Paul Edwards. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0140445305.           Required.

Saga of the Volsungs, tr. Jesse L. Byock. Penguin Classics. ISBN 978-0140447385. Required.

Course reader. Required.

Prerequisites: None. Readings are in English.

Course workload: Short in-class presentation, midterm test, term paper (5-6 pages, doublespaced), final exam.

Scandinavian Myth and Religion

Course: Scandinavian C160/Religious Studies C106

Location:  TBA

Time: MWF 10-11

Instructor: Wellendorf, Jonas

L&S Breadth: Historical Studies OR Philosophy & Values 

Three hours of lecture and discussion per week. The course is intended to present a survey of the religious beliefs of Scandinavia from prehistory through the conversion to Christianity (eleventh century), as illustrated in narrative and, to a lesser extent, archaeological materials. The approach will be primarily source-critical, with some use of comparative Germanic and Indo-European data. By the end of the course, students should know the sources well, have an understanding of the major problems involved in this study, and be aware of the more important scholarly trends in the field.

Workload: A midterm exam (20% of the course grade); a draft of term paper (10% of course grade); term paper (40% of the course grade); and a final examination (30% of the course grade).


Edda, trans. Anthony Faulkes, ISBN-13: 978-0460876162

The Poetic Edda (second edition), trans. Carolyne Larrington, ISBN-13: 978-0199675340

Norse Mythology, by John Lindow, ISBN-13: 978-0195153828

All other readings are to be found in the course reader which will be made available through bCourses.

Prerequisites: None, although some background in folklore and mythology, religious studies, medieval literature and history, or Scandinavian culture are likely to prove helpful.