Courses - Spring 2018

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ENGL 350.001
Medieval Tales of Wonder
Lisa Myers
MWF 9:00‒9:50

This course will introduce students to texts from the Middle Ages that are designed to amaze and astonish. The class will place an emphasis on the historical and cultural contexts of these works and approach them through the techniques of literary analysis and theory in order to uncover the ways in which these texts use wonder to explore issues of gender, power, faith, and the fear of the unknown. We will read about heroes and monsters in Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied and about magic and fairies in medieval romances such as Sir Degare. We will examine the ideology surrounding the natural world through bestiaries, maps, and travel narratives like The Travels of Sir John Mandeville and we will study the afterlife, ghosts, and demons in religious texts such as The Life of St. Guthlac. All texts will be read in modern English translations.

ENGL 447.001
Introductory Old English
Jonathan Davis-Secord
TR 2:00‒3:15

Hwæt! In this class, we will return to the earliest recorded form of English and read some of the oldest literature ever written in the language. We will spend the first half of the semester learning the grammar of Old English while working through introductory passages in their original form. We will then move on to reading Old English prose and poems, including some of Beowulf! No prior knowledge of Old English required.

ENGL 550.001
Middle English Heroes, Saints, and Lovers
Anita Obermeier
TR 11:00‒12:15

This course is an introductory sampling of medieval literature (and some art) produced in England and the immediate Continent between 1066 and 1500. We start this historical, linguistic, and literary enterprise with the Bayeux Tapestry—art with text—fighting alongside Anglo-Saxon warriors. Then we will pray with English saints, sleuth with historians, learn the art of courtly love from medieval knights and ladies, look at the nature of God with mystics, and watch biblical drama unfold. The original texts are in Latin, Anglo-Norman, and various dialects of Middle English, which we will study in modern English, in bilingual facing-page translations, and the easier ones in Middle English. The texts cover various secular and religious genres, including epic, debate, saints’ lives, fabliaux, lais, romance, drama, allegory, and lyrics. The goal of the course is to highlight the variety and range of texts of the Middle English period, and to place those writings in their cultural, linguistic, and historical contexts.


HIST 201.001
The Medieval World
Nikolaus Overtoom
MWF 11:00‒11:50

This course offers a broad orientation to Western culture during the Middle Ages by surveying the history, literature, art, and spirituality of the West from the decline of the Roman Empire to the eve of the Renaissance. In this period, ideas, institutions, and forms of cultural expression evolved throughout Europe, forging a cultural legacy that remains influential today. Far from being a long interlude of darkness and stagnation separating Antiquity from the Renaissance, the Middle Ages was a time of vibrant transformation and innovative developments in many areas of human endeavor. Students will engage the major political, social, religious, artistic, and military developments of the Middle Ages through a balance of lectures, readings, writing assignments, and in-class discussions. The overall aim of the course is thus to provide a well-rounded assessment and evaluation of the most significant developments during this rich historical period.

HIST 395.003
Medieval Women in Text and Film
TR 9:30‒10:45
Sarah Davis-Secord

Medieval women played a wide variety of important social and political roles—as nuns, queens, fighters, writers, lovers, mystics, etc.—and there are more written texts by and about women from the Middle Ages than from any previous society. This course will present the history of several significant medieval women through a comparison of the primary source texts either by or about them with the modern film versions of their lives and works. The study of historical women’s lives and the roles they played in past societies demonstrates how written texts helped shape and confirm views about women, gender, and sexuality in the Middle Ages. Comparison of these historical texts with contemporary film representations allows us to think carefully about the differences between medieval and modern approaches to women’s lives and about how we today view women of the past. We will spend class time discussing the written texts and viewing and discussing the films. Students will write essays about each woman, comparing the representations in the medieval texts with those in the modern films

HIST 318.001
Spain and Portugal to 1700
Michael Ryan
MWF 2:00‒2:50

“Spain is different” was the slogan used by the caudillo Francisco Franco to encourage tourism to Spain in the 1970s, as the country had been effectively isolated by the international community due to Franco’s fascist rule. The slogan was designed to evoke the “exotic” qualities of Spain and its history. Of course, this elided the historical nuances of centuries’ worth of encounter and exchange among the many peoples—particularly Christians, Jews, and Muslims—who called the peninsula home in the pre-modern past. In this class, we will study the history of Spain and Portugal until roughly the end of the seventeenth century. Among some of the many themes investigated will be the waves of settlers of the peninsula, the formation of the Iberian kingdoms, social and cultural exchanges among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and cultural and intellectual innovations.

HIST 326.001
History of Christianity to 1517
Donna Ray
TR 11:00‒12:15

This course covers the history of Christianity from its beginnings in Palestine to the eve of the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. This was a period of major growth and development for Christianity, but also a time in which the Church faced significant crises and underwent fundamental changes. We will see Christianity emerge from early challenges to become the official religion of the Roman Empire and then define many aspects of life during the Middle Ages. Primary focus will be on the rich variety of forms—doctrinal, liturgical, artistic, intellectual, and institutional—that Christianity assumed throughout this period. Also of concern will be Christianity’s contributions to Western culture and its significance as a “civilizing” force.

HIST 395.005
History of Rome: The Republic
Nikolaus Overtoom
MWF 1:00‒1:50

This is a student-driven course based on readings, research, and in-class discussions covering the development of ancient Rome from a minor city-state to a world power between the tenth and first centuries B.C. During this period the Romans created a system of government that became an intellectual influence on numerous modern nations, including the United States. We will investigate the political, social, and military developments that allowed the Romans to create the strongest and most prosperous state in the ancient world. Through innovation and determination, the Roman Republic overcame the great powers of Carthage in the West and the successors of Alexander the Great in the East. Yet the Republic fell victim to its own success. Social, economic, and political turmoil allowed Roman generals, such as Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian to subvert the Republic and bring it to its knees.

HIST 395.006
Late Antiquity
Nikolaus Overtoom
MWF 9:00‒9:50

In this class we will cover the transitional period between Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages known as Late Antiquity. We will address the decline and fall of the Roman world in the West and the continued power of Rome in the East from the second to the eighth century A.D. This was a period of great political and military turmoil; however, it was also a period of great social and religious change. As Christianity became the dominant force in Western civilization, new societies emerged to replace the traditional Roman order. Despite the best efforts of the Romans to maintain their unrivalled position in Europe, North Africa, and the Near East, new powers and ideas created a new world.