Medieval Studies Program

The medieval studies program provides an interdisciplinary context for students who wish to study the European Middle Ages. Students normally concentrate on one of three fields: art history and archaeology, history and culture, or language and literature. They are also expected to do coursework in the other fields. In certain cases the program may also provide a framework for students wishing to cross the temporal, topical, and geographical boundaries of medieval studies to consider such problems as the relationship between classical and medieval literature or art, or the broader history of the preindustrial European societies.

Students have a number of opportunities to experience medieval materials firsthand, including working with rare manuscripts in Special Collections, singing in the Collegium Musicum, or participating on an archaeological dig. The Medieval Studies Department brings distinguished visitors to campus each year to give public talks and to work one-on-one with students. Field trips to places such as the Cloisters Museum in New York City and to concerts in the nearby area foster a sense of community in addition to providing access to materials.

The skills typically acquired by medieval studies students—knowledge of European culture, ability to analyze “foreign” texts, experience handling artifacts and manuscripts, and familiarity with Latin—provide good preparation for advanced degrees, whether in the humanities, law, or other professional schools.

Affiliated Faculty

Jane Alden
BMU, Manchester University; MMU, King's College; PHD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Professor of Music; Associate Professor, Medieval Studies

Francesco Marco Aresu
MA, Indiana University Bloomington; MA, Stanford University; PHD, Harvard University
Assistant Professor of Italian; Assistant Professor, Medieval Studies

Michael Armstrong Roche
BA, Harvard University; MA, Harvard University; PHD, Harvard University
Associate Professor of Spanish; Associate Professor, Medieval Studies; Associate Professor, Latin American Studies

Michael Meere
BA, Northwestern University; MA, University of Virginia; PHD, University of Virginia
Assistant Professor of French; Assistant Professor, Medieval Studies

Cecilia Miller
BA, LeTourneau College; DPHIL, Oxford University; MPHIL, University of St Andrews
Professor of History; Chair, College of Social Studies; Professor, Medieval Studies; Tutor, College of Social Studies

Ruth Nisse
BA, Columbia University; PHD, University of California, Berkeley
Professor of English; Chair, English; Associate Professor, Medieval Studies

Jeff Rider
BA, Yale University; MA, University of Chicago; PHD, University of Chicago
Professor of French; Chair, Medieval Studies; French Section Head; Professor, Medieval Studies

Gary Shaw
BA, McGill University; DPHIL, Oxford University
Professor of History; Associate Editor, History and Theory; Professor, Medieval Studies

Jesse Wayne Torgerson
BA, Biola University; MA, University of California, Berkeley; PHD, University of California, Berkeley
Assistant Professor of Letters; Assistant Professor, Medieval Studies; Assistant Professor, History

Departmental Advising Experts

Jeff Rider

MDST125 Love, Sex, and Marriage in Renaissance Europe

This writing-intensive seminar will compare literary and artistic depictions of love, sex, and marriage during the Renaissance by authors and artists from England, Spain, France, Flanders, Germany, and Italy. We will read both male and female writers in genres ranging from poetry, the short story, and theater to the essay, the travel narrative, and the sermon. We will also examine other arts such as painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts (e.g., wedding chests). Questions we will explore include, but are not limited to, How were love and marriage related during the Renaissance? What role did sex, gender, and violence play in relationships between couples and within society? How do gender and genre affect the ways in which love, sex, and marriage are depicted? How did cultural differences influence writers' and artists' interpretations of love, sex, and marriage? And what about same-sex unions? Other topics will include virginity and celibacy, erotic literature, family and class structures, and divorce.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L123, COL123, FGSS123
Prereq: None

MDST128 Constantinople: From Rome to Istanbul

Constantinople was founded by a Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 330. From there the story gets complicated. Should we account for Constantinople from a Western point of view and call it Roman? Or, should we label it by its Eastern religion and call it Christian? Or, should we see Constantinople's true nature in a transnational Hellenic culture and call it Byzantine? Then, once we have chosen a story to explain the city's nature, how should it end? With the pillaging fourth crusade in 1204, or the Ottoman sack in 1453, or is Constantinople yet alive in modern Istanbul? This course diverges from such narrative frameworks by accounting for Constantinople as, first and foremost, a city. Together we will explore the rich, unevenly distributed, textual and material relics of this medieval metropolis and contribute our finds to a collaborative digital database. Students will draw from this database to craft their own histories, applying both imagination and analysis into a believable and reliable story conveying the diversities and paradoxes of life in The City.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-COL
Identical With: COL128, HIST230
Prereq: None

MDST151 European Architecture to 1750

This course is an introduction to architecture and related visual art as an expression of premodern Western European civilizations, from ancient Greece through the early 18th century, including Roman, Early Christian, Byzantine, early medieval, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, landscapes, and cities. The focus is on analysis of form in architecture and the allied arts. Emphasis is on relationships between style and patronage. In each era, how does architecture help to constitute its society's identity? What is the relationship between style and ideology? How do architects respond to the works of earlier architects, either innovatively or imitatively? How do patrons respond to the works of their predecessors, either locally or distantly? How are works of architecture positioned within those structures of power that the works, in turn, help to define? How do monuments celebrate selected aspects of history and suppress others? How were the major buildings configured, spatially and materially? Emphasis will be on continuities and distinctions between works across time, seeing Western traditions as a totality over centuries. Lectures and readings convey different historiographic approaches to these issues.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA151
Prereq: None

MDST203 Introduction to The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

The Hebrew Bible is one of the most influential texts in the world. From antiquity to the present, it has served as a source of philosophical, literary, and artistic reflection. It is a fascinating document, combining narrative, poetry, law, prophetic proclamations, and puzzling parables. What kind of book is the Hebrew Bible? Who wrote it and why? How do we approach such a text across the distance of time? Through a systematic reading from the very beginning, we will place the Bible in its historical context while giving special attention to the philosophical and literary questions it raises: Is obedience to authority always justified? Why do good people suffer unjustly? What gender is God? In answering these and other questions, you will gain an understanding of the ways contesting interpretations make authoritative claims.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: RELI201, CJST244, COL237
Prereq: None

MDST204 Medieval Europe

This introductory lecture course is a history of European politics, culture, and institutions from the end of the Roman Imperial era through 1520. Within a chronological framework we will focus on the creation of kingdoms and government; the growth and crises of papal-dominated Christianity¿its crusades and its philosophy;¿the rise and role of the knight, lady, and aristocratic culture; masculinity and gender relations; the crises of the later Middle Ages, including the Black Death, heresy, mysticism, and war. These all contributed to the beginnings of the Renaissance and the Reformation, events that ended the medieval period. We will also at least glance at the borderlands of Europe, the edges of Islamic and Orthodox worlds.

The course will also provide students with basic introductory exposure to the ideas and methods of the digital humanities through course illustrations and discussions. This will probably include exercises in visualizing the past, exposure to geographic information systems (GIS) analysis, text-mining, and network analysis.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST201
Prereq: None

MDST207 Chaucer and His World

In this course, we will read Chaucer's fascinating dream-visions, The BOOK OF THE DUCHESS and THE HOUSE OF FAME and his best-known work, THE CANTERBURY TALES. We will also read selections from Chaucer's sources and consider how he adapts these texts in his own literary works. Some of the topics we will explore are the various genres of Chaucer's poetry (allegory, epic, romance, satire), medieval ideas about psychology and dreams, the ideology of chivalry, Chaucer's reinvention of the classical world, and views of gender and sexuality. All readings will be in Middle English, so we will read slowly and carefully, with attention to the language.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL207
Prereq: None

MDST209 Mosque and Cathedral: Islam and the West, c. 600-1500

This course examines the interaction between the Islamic world and medieval Europe from the perspective of art and architecture, from late antiquity and the rise of Islam through the end of the Middle Ages. Our approach will seek out both intersections and comparisons: while attending to the borders, crossings, and overlaps that existed between medieval Christendom and the Islamic world, this course will also stage comparisons of key themes specific to these traditions, chief among them the picturing of divinity, the status of a sacred text, the organization of sacred space, and the practice of luxury. We will survey a series of historical encounters, including Byzantine Iconoclasm, the Crusades, and trade and diplomacy in general, before culminating in Renaissance Italy. Special emphasis will be reserved for key geographies of exchange, including Spain, Sicily, North Africa, and the Holy Land. Consideration will be given to the media of architecture, mosaic, painting, relief sculpture, decorated books, ivory, metalwork, and textiles. Questions of geography, ethnicity, the other, the idol, cultural translation, and the status of text vs. image will be threaded throughout.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA209
Prereq: None

MDST210 Medieval Art and Architecture, c. 1100-1400

This course introduces the art and architecture of Romanesque and Gothic Europe, c. 1100-1400, focusing especially on Germany, France, Italy, England, and Spain, as well as the wider Mediterranean. Architecture, painting, sculpture, and the luxury arts (e.g., metalwork, ivory, and textiles) will be our focus, supplemented by primary-source texts and secondary literature. Key themes will include sacred spaces, such as cathedrals and monasteries; sacred images and devotion; gender; pilgrimage and the relic; geography; the other; the monstrous and the miraculous; courtly love and chivalry; the relationship between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; and premodern definitions of art, the artist, the donor, craftsmanship, and value.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA210, RL&L210
Prereq: None

MDST212 Wesleyan University Collegium Musicum

The Collegium Musicum is a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring and performing the diverse vocal and instrumental repertories of the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque periods of European music history. Emphasis is given to the study of musical style, performance practice, singing one-on-a-part, and excellence in performance. Various cultural aspects of the societies that produced the music under study are simultaneously explored; participants will work with primary source materials, such as facsimiles of musical manuscripts, as well as literary and historical writings.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-MUSC
Identical With: MUSC438
Prereq: None

MDST214 Introduction to the New Testament

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to those writings of the earliest Christians that came to be included in the New Testament. These writings will be examined critically with respect to their social-historical origin, religious content, and place within the development of early Christianities. Interpreting early Christian texts constitutes the most important task in the study of the New Testament. We will, therefore, focus on a close reading of the New Testament in light of historical situations and social contexts in the Greco-Roman world, having as one of the chief aims of the course the acquisition of critical skills in reading and understanding the New Testament. In the process, we will necessarily engage secondary scholarship and wider theoretical interests, thereby providing students with a general introduction to the academic study of religion.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RELI
Identical With: RELI212
Prereq: None

MDST215 Politics and Piety in Early Christianities

The first four centuries of the Christian era will illustrate the lively twists and turns of social experimentation that set the stage for the emergence of the Christian religion. This course will be concerned with fundamental arenas of intellectual and social conflict, including constructions of Christian myths of apostolic origins and authority; the appropriation of the Jewish epic; the challenge of gnosticism; the domestication of Greek philosophy; interpretations of sexuality and gender; experiences of martyrdom and prosecution; theological reflections on human nature and society; and the ways Christians were seen by Romans. The objective will be to grasp the beginnings of the Christian religion as a human achievement of cultural consequence.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-RELI
Identical With: RELI215, CCIV212
Prereq: None

MDST220 Love and Loss in Medieval and Early Modern French Literature and Culture

The interconnected themes of love and loss encompass others such as desire, passion, friendship, death, separation, and grief. This course introduces students to the uses of these themes in French literature of the medieval and early modern periods by reading a range of texts, from the courtly romance and lyric poetry, to the essay, the novella, and theater. We will examine how men and women treat these themes, and we will be especially sensitive to the ways in which women write in genres traditionally dominated by men. Topics of study will include the body, virtues and vices, marriage, sexuality, seduction, chastity, and violence. We will also place emphasis on improving French pronunciation and on developing oral presentation and written skills. Readings, papers, and discussions will be in French.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: FREN222, COL217
Prereq: None

MDST221 Allegory and Devotion in Medieval and Renaissance Music

This course investigates the mystical and visionary aspects of religious music alongside the secular development of the vernacular love lyric. We explore tensions between individual and communal practices, authorship and artistry, power and politics, and the multiple social functions of music-making. Students learn about the musical legacy from Ancient Greece, tracing its influence through the Middle Ages to the end of the Renaissance. We cover the music of worship, romance, public ceremony, and private entertainment, observing the shifting balance between innovation and tradition. We study the relationship of notational systems to memory, become familiar with cultures that are remote from ours, and gain a historical respect for difference. By engaging with the deep past, you acquire skills not only to appreciate the musical creativity of a millennium ago, but also to better understand social and cultural distances in the modern world.

The course material will be presented through lectures and discussion, listening assignments, singing, and readings. Weekly lab sessions go over technical terminology and address the challenges that arise. The lab also facilitates reviews for quizzes and provides coaching in essay writing, research skills, and the development of analytical listening.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-MUSC
Identical With: MUSC241
Prereq: None

MDST222 Early Renaissance Art and Architecture in Italy

This course surveys key monuments of Italian art and architecture produced between ca. 1300 and 1500. Focusing on major centers such as Florence, Milan, Rome, and Venice, as well as smaller courts such as Urbino and Mantua, it considers the works and careers of the most important artists and architects of the period, among them Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Giovanni Bellini, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci. Monuments are studied in their broader intellectual, political, and religious context, with particular attention paid to issues of patronage, devotion, gender, and spectatorship. Class discussions will be based on close readings of primary sources and scholarly texts on a wide range of topics. Museum trip(s) will expose students to original works of art.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA221, RL&L212
Prereq: None

MDST223 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Rethinking the Italian Renaissance

In this course we explore the intellectual achievements of the Italian Renaissance. We study the development of new secular values and the quest for the fulfillment of body and soul, glory, and exuberant pleasures. We question notions of beauty, symmetry, proportion, and order. We also unveil often-neglected aspects of Renaissance counter-cultures, such as the aesthetics of ugliness and obscenity and practices of marginalization (e.g., misogyny, homophobia). We inquire into the rediscovery of classical civilizations. We consider how the study of antiquity fundamentally changed the politics, literatures, arts, and philosophies of Italy at the dawn of the modern era. Through a close reading of texts by authors such as Francesco Petrarca, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Michelangelo, we investigate continuities and ruptures between their quest for human identity and ours. This course is conducted in English, and all primary and secondary sources are in English.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L224, COL224, ITAL224
Prereq: None

MDST224 Medieval Drama: Read It and Be in It

It was and still is revolutionary theater! This course will examine early English drama in its many forms, from the civic mystery cycles of the 15th century to the morality plays Mankind and Everyman. We will cover topics including the role of drama in defining communal identities, dramatic interpretations of gender, and the responses of drama to contemporary social and religious controversies. Most readings will be in modernized and annotated Middle English, so we will pay close attention to language.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL224, THEA224
Prereq: None

MDST225 European Intellectual History to the Renaissance

This class will examine some of the major texts in Western thought from ancient Greece to the Renaissance. Emphasis will be placed on close reading and analysis of the texts.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST215
Prereq: None

MDST226 The Cosmos of Dante's Comedy

This course provides an in-depth introduction to Dante Alighieri's 14th-century masterpiece as a point of entry to the history of Western literature, philosophy, and science. The core of the course consists of an intensive study of Dante's encyclopedic poem in relation to the culture and history of Medieval Europe. Major topics include: representations of the afterlife; the soul's relation to the divine; concepts of modernity and antiquity in the Middle Ages; notions of authorship and authority during the 13th and 14th centuries; vernacular poetics and the medieval genre system; the culture and materiality of manuscripts in the Middle Ages; gender and genre in Dante and the 12th- to 14th-century lyric; intertextuality and imitation; classical and medieval language theory; the role of the classics in the Middle Ages; Dante's concepts of governance; myth and theology in Dante's Christian poetics; and the reception to Dante's work from the 14th-century to present. The course combines a close analysis of Dante's literary strategies with exercises in critical writing and in multimedia translation and adaptation, aimed at prompting critical reflection on the ways in which present cultural practices are built upon the practices of the past. This course is conducted in English; no previous knowledge of Italian is required.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L226, ITAL226, COL234, RELI218
Prereq: None

MDST228 Heroes, Lovers, and Swindlers: Medieval and Renaissance Spanish Literature and History

This course is designed to develop students' ability to make informed and creative sense of four fascinating, complex, and influential medieval and Renaissance Spanish texts in their multiple (literary, historical) contexts: the "national" epic EL CID (12th--13th century); the bawdy and highly theatrical prose dialogue known as LA CELESTINA (1499); the anonymous LAZARILLO (1554), the first picaresque novel; and María de Zayas's proto-feminist novella THE WAGES OF VICE (1647). Through these and selected historical readings, the course is also intended to provide students with a basic knowledge of Spanish culture (in its plurality) from the 11th through the 17th centuries, the texture of everyday life, and the larger movements of long-term historical change. We will draw on literature and history to imagine the world of chivalry and crusade in the medieval Spain of "the three religions of the book" (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam); of mercantile values, courtly love, and prostitution in the Renaissance city; of social injustice and religious hypocrisy in imperial Spain; and of the exacerbated gender and caste tensions that followed from the political crises of the 1640s. We will reflect on the interplay of literature and history in our efforts to come to grips with a past both familiar and strange; address the crossing of linguistic, artistic, ethnic, religious, caste, and gender boundaries that has long been a conspicuous feature of Spanish society; and consider what texts and lives of the past might still have to say to us today. No prior historical or literary preparation is required, only a willingness to engage the readings closely (textually and historically).
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: SPAN230, COL229
Prereq: None

MDST230 Lancelot, Guinevere, Grail: Enigma in the Romances of Chretien de Troyes

Chretien de Troyes, the greatest writer of medieval France, was the first to tell the stories of Lancelot and Guinevere's fatal passion and of the quest for the Holy Grail. Written at the height of the Renaissance of the 12th century, his Arthurian tales became the basis for all future retellings of the legend. We will read these tales in depth, paying particular attention to their enigmatic quality.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: FREN220
Prereq: None

MDST232 Obscure Enigma of Desire

This course is an introduction to the study of the ways we create meanings when we read texts. It will focus on several deliberately obscure literary texts from twelfth-century France and will examine them in the light of the classical and medieval concepts of enigma, the marvelous (wonderful), fabula, and allegory as well as some modern theoretical works about how we understand narratives. We will seek to understand why deliberate obscurity is an important part of literature and how medieval authors created narratives that seem particularly meaningful precisely because they are obscure. We will consider why we feel these texts have meaning and the ways in which we make them meaningful to us. This course will be co-taught in parallel with a course (in English) on the same subject offered at the Charles University in Prague by Professor Lucie Dolezalova. About half of the classes will be conducted together with the class in Prague through teleconferencing and Professor Dolezalova will teach one week of the course at Wesleyan and meet with students while she is here.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L232
Prereq: None

MDST234 Days and Knights of the Round Table

This course will study the evolution of the Arthurian legend from its origins in sixth-century Britain to its development in the 12th-century romances of Chrétien de Troyes. The course will look at the way the various developments of the legend were rooted in specific historical circumstances and yet contributed to the elaboration of a rich and complex narrative that has been appropriated in different ways by each succeeding period of Western European culture.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: FREN334
Prereq: None

MDST235 Days and Knights of the Round Table

This course will study the evolution of the Arthurian legend from its origins in sixth-century Britain to its fullest development in the 13th-century French Lancelot-Grail cycle. The course will look at the way the various developments of the legend were rooted in specific historical circumstances and yet contributed to the elaboration of a rich and complex narrative that has been appropriated in different ways by each succeeding period of Western European culture.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L176
Prereq: None

MDST238 Mystics and Militants: Medieval Women Writers

In this class we will read a wide range of works written by European women between ca. 1100--1400, including courtly, devotional, and polemical texts. The course will explore ideologies of gender in the Middle Ages and examine the ways in which our authors confronted the misogynist discourses of their eras with learning and imagination. We will consider such topics as constructions of sexuality and the body, "courtly love," mystical religious experience, heresies, humanism, and utopian realms. In short, we will read works by women who created their own forms of authority and in doing so, both influenced and defied the authorities of their time.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL232, FGSS224
Prereq: None

MDST245 The Invention of Fiction: Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron

In this course we read and discuss Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron (ca. 1353), a collection of 100 short stories traded by an "honest brigade" of 10 Florentine men and women. They tell each other these stories while sheltered in a secluded villa as the plague of 1348 rages in Florence. We study the Decameron as both a product and an interpretation of the world Boccaccio inhabited. We examine the Decameron's tales and narrative frame as a point of entry into the cultural and social environment of medieval Italy. We look at its scurrilous, amusing, and provocative innuendos as traces of erotic, religious, ethnic, and cultural questions. We investigate the sexual exuberance of many of Boccaccio's tales and the tension between "high" and "low" culture. We consider the development of mercantilism and literacy in early-modern Europe and its emerging virtues of wit and self-reliance. We review the dynamics of composition and reception in manuscript culture and the book's adaptation into different media, from illuminations to film. And by impersonating the 10 Florentines, we will reenact their pastime of telling stories and appreciate Boccaccio's remarkably modern sensibility and unsurpassed art of writing fiction. This course is conducted in Italian.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: ITAL235, COL255
Prereq: None

MDST251 Islamic Civilization: The Classical Age

This course surveys the historical development of Islamic civilization from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the rise of the "gunpowder empires" of the 16th century. Special emphasis will be placed on the unique cultural forms this civilization developed and the emergence of Islam as a world religion. This course primarily deals with the political, intellectual, and social history of the Muslim peoples of the Middle East and only secondarily with Islam as a system of religious belief.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST231
Prereq: None

MDST254 Cervantes

Cervantes is known chiefly for DON QUIXOTE, often described as the first modern novel and fountainhead of one of the great modern myths of individualism. DON QUIXOTE also reimagines virtually every fashionable, popular, and disreputable literary genre of its time: chivalric, pastoral, picaresque, sentimental, adventure, and Moorish novels; the novella; verse forms; drama; and even the ways these kinds of literary entertainment were circulated and consumed, debated, celebrated, and reviled. It is a book about the life-enhancing (and endangering) power of books and reading and the interplay of fiction and history and truths and lies. Cervantes' art remains fresh and unsettling, sparing no one and nothing, including the author and his work. Distinguished by its commitment to the serious business of humor, make-believe, and play, the novel is at once a literary tour de force and a fascinating lens through which to examine the political, social, religious, and intellectual debates of its moment. Characteristic themes include social reality as artifact or fiction, the paradoxical character of truths, the irreducible diversity of taste and perception, the call for consent in politics and love, and personal identity (including gender) as a heroic quest. In this course, we will read, discuss, and write about DON QUIXOTE, along with a sampling of critical, philosophical, literary, and artistic responses it has inspired.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: SPAN236, COL327
Prereq: None

MDST257 Knights, Fools, and Lovers: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance French Culture

The study of history and past literature provides intellectual, psychological and emotional resources that make one more resilient in adapting to new circumstances, enable one to see new possibilities of being-in-the-world, and provide new capacities for self-understanding. A knowledge of the European past, moreover, can be an advantage for people seeking to study, live, or work in Europe. This course will help students develop those resources and knowledge through a study of various forms of short fiction and poetry from the French Middle Ages and the Renaissance (12th-16th centuries). We will focus on the representations of human relations, above all romantic relations and their inherent conflicts of power, in these works. We will also view a couple of historical films in order to develop our visual imagination.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: FREN230
Prereq: None

MDST295 Love, War, and a Few Monsters: An Introduction to Medieval Literature

This course engages with a selection of French and English literature from ca. 1200 to 1400, with an emphasis on the popular genres of romance and epic. Our authors and works will include Marie de France's and Béroul's poems of magical and doomed love; contacts between Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Song of Roland and the Song of the Cid; and finally Chaucer's masterpiece The Canterbury Tales. The topics that we will examine include the politics of chivalry and crusading, medieval views of gender and sexuality, religious controversies, and representations of the world beyond Europe.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL293
Prereq: None

MDST302 The Arthurian Legend on Film

This course will serve both as an introduction to the Arthurian legend and to its cinematographic representation since the 1940s. Medieval texts will be paired with films that are "based" -- more or less closely -- on them. We will consider the ways in which these stories are told in literature and in film and the differences between them. We will also consider the ways in which the legend was used to address both medieval and modern preoccupations.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: RL&L300
Prereq: None

MDST308 Medievals on the Move: Pilgrimage, Jihad, Crusade, and Apocalypse

Medieval people moved: They traded and sent emissaries; they invaded and migrated; they wandered, begged, and ascended the heavens; they went on crusade, jihad, and pilgrimage. This course will first analyze the most consistently preserved sources on medieval movement: accounts of pious travel "for God's sake and not for pleasure." We will then contextualize such accounts with two other types of movement: the physical journeys of traders, diplomats, and warriors, as well as the interiorized journeys of the prophet, the mystic, and the storyteller. By encompassing this variety we will be able to pursue a larger question: Can patterns of exchange across the physical and cultural barriers of geography, language, religion, and governance reveal a more global medieval world than we usually envision?
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-COL
Identical With: COL308, HIST303
Prereq: None

MDST310 Muslims, Jews, and Christians: Convivencia in Medieval Iberia

For eight centuries, Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived side by side as neighbors on the Iberian Peninsula in a carefully negotiated state of coexistence known as "convivencia." While much of the written record is full of enmity, religious polemic, and mutual suspicion, the artistic record tells another version, of lives lived in close proximity giving rise to shared cultural practices, artistic tastes, and long interludes of mutual well-being.

This seminar will explore the works produced by the pluralistic societies of medieval Iberia from the perspectives of art, architecture, history, archaeology, literature, and music. As we study renowned monuments such as the synagogues of Toledo, the Alhambra, and the Way of St. James, we will learn to decode elements such as dress and home decor, food and hygiene, and gardening and agriculture, to expand our picture of culture and lived experience. Finally, we will ask why "convivencia" ultimately failed, and how the medieval Iberian experience can enlighten our own uneasy attempts at building a multicultural, multi-confessional society.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ART
Identical With: ARHA310
Prereq: None

MDST312 The Medieval Beast

How did medieval writers think about the distinction between human and animal? This course will examine the categories of soul and body, ruler and ruled, language and thought--among others. We will also read about human-animal hybrids like werewolves and bird-men in order to think through some of these binaries. Texts will include Marie de France's "Lais and Fables," Chrétien de Troyes's "Knight of the Lion," William of Palerne, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Chaucer's "Parliament of Fowls" and "Nun's Priest's Tale"; also bestiaries (encyclopedias of beasts) and some treatises about hunting and falconry.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL310
Prereq: None

MDST330 Lancelot, Guinevere, Grail: Enigma in the Romances of Chretien de Troyes

Chretien de Troyes, the greatest writer of medieval France, was the first to tell the stories of Lancelot and Guinevere's fatal passion and of the quest for the Holy Grail. Written at the height of the Renaissance of the 12th century, his Arthurian tales became the basis for all future retellings of the legend. We will read these tales in depth, paying particular attention to their enigmatic quality.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-RLAN
Identical With: FREN330
Prereq: None

MDST350 History as Tragedy: Genre, Gender, and Power in the Alexiad of Anna Komnena

Why did it take until the 11th century for a woman to write a work in the genre of history? What did it take for Anna Komnena--a renowned student of ancient literature, mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy, and a princess of the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire--to finally break into this most gendered of genres? And, how has Anna Komnena's accomplishment been received? This course will spend an entire semester delving into this deeply literary history, and its influence from the Middle Ages to the present. Students will engage with "The Alexiad" through close intertextual readings, critical scholarship in history, relevant work in theory, and digital research methods.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-COL
Identical With: COL350, HIST328
Prereq: None

MDST351 Debate and Destruction: Jews and Christians in the Middle Ages

This course will consider relations between the Jewish minority and their Christian neighbors in England before the Jews' expulsion in 1290. We will also look at how the Jews are depicted in subsequent Christian writing. We will read texts originally written in Hebrew, French, and Latin (all in translation) as well as English, giving us a sense of the conversations that took place between two groups that were both inextricably bound together and set apart by centuries of conflict and persecution. Among the issues we will explore are the popularity of Jewish-Christian debate as a literary form, the Crusades, gender roles and gender fluidity, Jewish and Christian apocalyptic programs, and the curious afterlife of Jews in Middle English literature..
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL351, RELI351, CJST351
Prereq: None

MDST353 Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Medieval Literature

Why do white supremacists celebrate the European Middle Ages as a lost era of racial and religious purity? This course approaches that question by considering the invention of medieval ideas of race, ethnicity and religious difference. Our focus will be on a selection of texts dealing with encounters--real and imaginary--of Western European Christians with cultures from the Mongol Empire to the Celtic "borderlands." The readings will begin historically with the Crusades and the gruesome chronicles written by Christian, Muslim, and Jewish authors. We will move on to religious polemics, travel accounts and, above all, romances: fictions that re-imagine the past in terms of exoticized sexuality, racial transformation, cannibalism, and nationalist fantasy.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL353
Prereq: None

MDST373 From Courtly Love to Cannibalism: Medieval Romances

Romance is the narrative form of medieval sexualities and courtly love, but it also gives literary shape to social worlds in which a protagonist loses gender, skin color changes with religion, and a dog might be the hero of a tale. In this course, we will begin with texts that date from the Romance's origins in 12th-century France and continue with the form's development up to the well-known Middle English texts of the 14th century, including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight set at King Arthur's court. Some of the topics we will consider are Romance's engagement with the religious and ethnic conflicts of the Crusades, theories of good and bad government, and of course, Christian mysticism and the Holy Grail.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: HA-ENGL
Identical With: ENGL373
Prereq: None

MDST376 Travel and Communication in Europe

This course will explore the character of travel and communication networks, patterns, technologies, and ideas in Europe in the medieval and early modern periods. Students will therefore learn the concept of travel and mobility, whether commercial, cultural, or bureaucratic, and the concept of notable reconfigurations and acceleration of exchange in this period. Beyond ideas, the networks they linked to will be prominent. These include technologies such as the bridge, road, and wayfinding, as well as cybernetic creations like the riding horse (with iron shoes and complex needs); the development of institutions of hospitality, like the monastery, the hostel and the inn; and the adaptation of writing to facilitate motion and communication. Due attention will be paid to exotic travel such as crusading, pilgrimage and warfare; however, routine business travel will be key, such as the trips required by law, by trade, by the search for money, and the desire to see family.

Methodologically, the course will focus on the idea of networks and the techniques of the digital humanities. Thus, text mining for information; mapping in GIS (Geographic Information Systems); and analyzing network relations will be important additions to the usual historical skills of reading and writing essays.
Offering: Crosslisting
Grading: A-F
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: SBS-HIST
Identical With: HIST376
Prereq: None

MDST401 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST402 Individual Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST403 Department/Program Project or Essay

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

MDST404 Department/Program Project or Essay

Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

MDST407 Senior Tutorial (downgraded thesis)

Downgraded Senior Thesis Tutorial - Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor. Only enrolled in through the Honors Coordinator.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

MDST408 Senior Tutorial (downgraded thesis)

Downgraded Senior Thesis Tutorial - Project to be arranged in consultation with the tutor. Only enrolled in through the Honors Coordinator.
Offering: Host
Grading: A-F

MDST409 Senior Thesis Tutorial

Topic to be arranged in consultation with tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST410 Senior Thesis Tutorial

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST411 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST412 Group Tutorial, Undergraduate

Topic to be arranged in consultation with the tutor.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT

MDST470 Independent Study, Undergraduate

Credit may be earned for an independent study during a summer or authorized leave of absence provided that (1) plans have been approved in advance, and (2) all specified requirements have been satisfied.
Offering: Host
Grading: OPT
Credits: 1.00
Gen Ed Area: None
Prereq: None