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Course Offerings for Fall 2007
MVGA 5078 Medieval Books & Materials
The handwritten sources of the medieval period, whether charters or codices, records, chronicles, treatises, Bibles, or many other genres and types, are fundamental materials for medieval studies. Using examples from a range of documentary and literary sources, with presentations and discussions by guests and visitors to the class, the course will consider the purposes, preparation, transmission and preservation of written sources from the period. The emphasis will be on how such materials can be used for medieval studies and the tools important for their study.
MVGA 5085 Art, Politics, & Religion in Early Humanism
This course is directed to students with interests in literature, art history, humanities, history, and religion. It will illustrate the main traits of the humanist movement from the early days of the Florentine Republic until the end of the XVth century. This period witnessed one of the major changes in mentality in the history of thought, and prepared the grounds for the development of modern civilization. At the core of the humanist movement was a changed perception of the place and function of human beings in the cosmos. A new faith in the human capacity to shape the world in the image of an ideal Christian model led to a reevaluation of human ingenuity and the arts. In particular, we will discuss the theories on the ideal state; the debate on the arts; and the seeds of religious reformation movements. Readings will include authors such as Giovanni Boccaccio, Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati, Poggio Bracciolini, Lorenzo Valla, and Erasmus.
ENGA 6199 Shaping Identity in Medieval Devotional Lit
This course considers a range of devotional literature, from instructional manuals and hagiography (including Ancrene Wisse , Anglo-Norman and Early Middle English Saints’ Lives) to later medieval narratives of spiritual revelation and selfhood such as Julian of Norwich, Henry, duke of Lancaster and Margery Kempe offer. We shall pay close attention to the formative roles of gender, the body, and conceptualizations of space in these narratives, and throughout we shall be concerned with assessing how medieval preoccupations with these issues offer challenges to, and continuities with, modern theories about the body, spirituality, writing and identity, and their intersection.
ENGA 5264 Chaucer
This course will examine Chaucer's major works -- The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde -- as well as two of his dream visions, The Book of the Duchess and the Legend of Good Women. We will have two main objectives: to explore the range and subtlety of Chaucer?s writing and to ask what it means to read Chaucer historically. Our weekly readings will consist of Chaucer?s poetry and writings by his contemporaries. We will also investigate theoretical and critical texts that address the challenges of historical criticism. These readings will be organized around topics that have caused heated debates among Chaucerians: the world of the court and its politics, religious belief, the position of women, the usefulness of both psychoanalytic and post-colonial theories. No prior knowledge of Middle English is assumed, but if you have not read Chaucer before, it is recommended that you read through The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde. Course requirements include weekly responses, an oral presentation, and a seminar paper.
HSGA 6155 Medieval Towns
This course focuses on major themes and debates surrounding the development of medieval towns in Europe from the early through late middle ages, including the origins of towns, the growth of communes and municipal government, the ruling elite, artisans and guilds, social conflict, women and family, civic ritual, urban confraternities and parishes, and the urban environment. We will also explore the different methodologies and disciplines employed by scholars to study these themes and debates, particularly archaeology, demography, and historical geography. Two approaches in particular will be singled out: the material culture of towns, and the impact of commercial expansion.
HSGA 7110 PSM: Church Law and Medieval Soc
The course will consist of a two-semester pro-seminar/seminar sequence inviting graduate students to formulate and pursue original research projects in the field of medieval church law. Possible study questions may address a wide range of issues, including legal theory and judicial practice, contemporary uses and perceptions of ‘canonical justice’. The pro-seminar will be devoted to becoming familiar with the bibliography and tools available for original investigations into the subject. It will also assist students in defining their own research topics. The seminar in the spring of 2004 will provide a forum for the presentation, discussion, and refinement of each participant’s scholarly work, which should eventually result in a 30 to 50-page essay.
PHGA 7073 Late Medieval Moral Theories
This course is designed to map the transformation of moral thought in the period from the end of the thirteenth century to about 1350. We shall read selections (in English translation) from the works of the foremost philosophers and theologians of the fourteenth century, such as John Duns Scotus and William Ockham. In addition, some less known but influential thinkers will be considered (e.g., Henry of Ghent, Godfrey of Fontaines, James of Viterbo). The key issues on which we will focus will include free will; the problem of the rationality of free choice and the relationship between intellect and will; divine command versus natural law; happiness; virtue; love (of God, of other people, of ourselves); the moral consequences of the doctrine of justification. Some practical and political applications of the debates on these themes may be also considered.
RSGA 6426 Augustine of Hippo
Jaroslav Pelikan adapts Whitehead’s remark about philosophy’s being a series of footnotes to Plato and wonders whether western theology is a series of footnotes to Augustine. This, at least, can be said: from the fifth century until the introduction of Aristotle into Europe, western theology was a conversation with Augustine. The Reformation can be interpreted as a return to Augustine; and in Jansenism, Catholics met a similar proposal. The “nouvelle théologie,” and Vatican II, which it influenced, again encountered Augustine. The goal of this course is a critical understanding and appreciation of the life, writings, and thought of St. Augustine. The means to this goal is a guided reading and analysis of some of his writings and, secondarily, of some modern books about him. The following works will be read in their entirety: the Confessions, Soliloquies, On the Free Choice of the Will, Faith and the Creed, On Christian Doctrine, and On the Spirit and the Letter. The class will also read To Simplician I, selections from On the Trinity, and other texts from Augustine’s writings on the questions of grace, free choice, original sin, freedom, and predestination.
RSGA 6470 Medieval & Byzantine Asceticism
Some medieval Christians went further than others to renounce those things that generated temporal gratification (e.g. food, sex, money, family, or public acclaim). Most advocates of asceticism in this period believed that this renunciation was necessary for salvation; some other Christians saw it as excessive and even dangerous. Over time and from place to place, the expressions of “asceticism” varied, often considerably. This course will introduce students to the concepts, practitioners, and controversies of medieval asceticism. It will also survey the similarities and differences between the eastern (i.e. Byzantine) and western ascetic traditions. For the most part, weekly readings will consist of primary documents (in English), though some secondary sources will make their way into our discussions. Students will write a review of a seminal secondary work and compose an article-length research paper.
Last modified: April 11, 2006