Courses - Fall 2019

To download a PDF of the current course brochure, click here.


ENGL 306.001
Arthurian Legends: Medieval to Modern
Anita Obermeier
TR 3:30–4:45

The Arthurian Legend has been the single most prolific literary motif in Western literature. This course will investigate the enduring strength and attraction of Arthurian legends from their pan-European beginnings in the medieval period to contemporary literature, popular culture, and film. We will read masterpieces from the Celtic tradition, Chrétien de Troyes, the French Lancelot-Grail Cycle, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Thomas Malory, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain, Naomi Mitchison, and others. This way, we can observe how each version serves a new authorial, political, or cultural agenda—whether it is to establish a national foundation myth, to endorse specific religious values, to revive medieval values in an industrial age, or to challenge gender stereotypes in modern times. We will also focus on the evolution of other important Arthurian characters, such as Gawain, Tristan, Perceval, Morgan le Fay, Galahad, Merlin, Lancelot, and Guinevere.

ENGL 351.001
Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales
Nicholas Schwartz
TR 12:30–1:45

This course focuses on The Canterbury Tales, the final work and masterpiece of Geoffrey Chaucer, one of the greatest and most important writers in English. A mix of the bawdy and the chaste, the sacred and the profane, the high- and the low-class, amongst other dichotomies, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is a work that provides its readers with a host of personalities, literary conventions, styles, and much, much more. All primary texts will be read in Chaucer’s Middle English, though students do not need to have any experience with the language in order to take this course. Chaucer wrote during the fourteenth century—a time of great tumult, including famine, plague, political uprising, and religious rebellion. We will consider the Canterbury Tales in light of this complicated historical context while also paying attention to the long and rich history of scholarly criticism on the Tales. Coursework and assignments are designed to develop knowledge of the conventions of medieval English poetry and a competence in Middle English, and to recognize Chaucer’s contributions to English language and literature.


HIST 304.001
High and Late Middle Ages
Michael A. Ryan
TR 9:30–10:45

In this class, we will reevaluate the traditional historical narrative that depicts the High Middle Ages (ca. 1000–1300 A.D.) as the “golden” age of medieval civilization, whereas the Later Middle Ages and onset of the early modern era (ca. 1300–1550 A.D.) represent the death or waning of that civilization. The reality, of course, is far more complex. We will question that narrative and invert it by studying the events that took place during the High Middle Ages that tarnished this “golden” era. We will analyze the crises of the Later Middle Ages and the early modern era, but we will also contextualize them within a larger atmosphere of political, cultural, and social change. We will read and analyze primary sources, the eyewitness accounts of the people who lived through these times, and learn the fundamental techniques of the study of history. We will also study a variety of secondary sources that have either reinforced or diverged from these larger narratives. By encountering the many manifestations of what constitutes the European High and Late Middle Ages, students will come away with a more nuanced understanding of what that period comprises.

HIST 326.001
History of Christianity to 1517
Donna Ray
Taught Online

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 395.004
Premodern Cities
Michael A. Ryan
TR 12:30–1:45

Cities in the premodern era, much like today, were nodes of concentrated cultural innovation, economic development, political power, and social dynamism. As such, they were vibrant, complex, contested spaces, defined and made by those who dwelled within them. Extensive maritime and terrestrial trade routes connected cities across Europe, Asia, and Africa in the premodern era, allowing the exchange of ideas, natural and man-made objects, flora and fauna, and pathogens. In this class, we will analyze cities within these and other contexts and see to what degree they effected changes of various types in the premodern world. We will read and analyze primary sources, the eyewitness accounts of the people who lived in—or away from—cities and who remarked about them. By so doing, we will understand the fundamental techniques of the study of history. We will also read a variety of secondary sources that have studied the city in the premodern world. By encountering the many manifestations of what made the premodern city, students will come away with a more nuanced understanding of the history of these urban centers and what that can tell us about cities today. 

HIST 427.001
History of Britain, 1066–1660
Caleb Richardson
MWF 2:00–2:50

Typically, the historian’s challenge is conveying the often-esoteric appeal of his or her subject to a wider audience: the study of changing patterns of land ownership in nineteenth-century Ireland, for instance, doesn’t exactly sell itself. But the period under study in this course is another matter entirely—if anything, there is almost too much drama here. The years from 1066 to 1660 include enough invasions, wars, political upheavals, great men, greater women, and shockingly naughty kings, queens, and aristocrats to keep BBC America programmers and historical novelists in business for centuries. There are reasons that every one of Shakespeare’s histories is set between these years. As for events of significance, this period witnessed the development of the common law, the origins of the state, and the birth of imperialism, among other things (such as the small affair of the Protestant Reformation). In this course we will try to make sense of one of the most exciting, bewildering, and transformative eras in not just British but world history.

Courses of Interest 

ENGL 445.001
History of the English Language
Nicholas Schwartz
TR 11:00–12:15

Ever wonder where “bad words” come from? Have you ever looked at a passage from Chaucer or Shakespeare and wondered why everything seems misspelled? This course is for you! The English language has a long and fascinating history, but to many students the most ancient form of English—Old English—looks practically nothing like the present-day English we are all familiar with today. Have no fear! This course will trace the development of the English language from its very earliest Indo-European beginnings all the way up to the present. Students will learn about important historical and linguistic influences on English and develop skills for analysis and an appreciation of the English language. No previous experience with linguistics or Old or Middle English is needed for this course.

LATN 1110.001
Elementary Latin I
MWF 10:00–10:50

LATN 1110.002
Elementary Latin I
MWF 11:00–11:50

LATN 1110.003
Elementary Latin I
MWF 1:00–1:50

LATN 1110.004
Elementary Latin I
MWF 9:00–9:50

LATN 2110.001
Intermediate Latin I
MWF 3:00–3:50