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Study Tour: Medieval Spain
Medieval Study Tour on the Camino de Santiago


Fordham University

Medieval Studies (MVST) 4998

Spring 2013 (22 May-6 June 2013)

El Pilar




Course Credit

A spring semester course for 4 credits. Fordham College students may apply the credits earned for this course (MVST 4998) as a free elective regardless of major, or toward a major or minor in Medieval Studies or History or other. The course covers the interdisciplinary capstone requirement in the core.

Course Fees and personal expenses

Participants will pay a course fee of $565, which will cover accommodation, insurance and the instructors’ expenses. See the description in the appended file, “Study Tour Medieval Spain 2013- Basic Info” under “Payment information” for estimates of personal expenses that might be expected (transportation, accommodation before and after the tour, meals).


Richard Gyug
Dealy Hall 628


David Myers
Dealy Hall 631


tel. 718-817-3933


tel. 718-817-3932


Study tour in northwestern Spain along the historic and modern Camino de Santiago from León to Santiago de Compostela. This is a spring course. From January to May, the class will meet once a month for presentations and discussion. Participants will then walk about 15 miles a day for two weeks (22 May-6 June), with meetings, lectures and discussion each day.


The Camino de Santiago is the traditional pilgrimage route from France across northwestern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, the legendary burial site of St. James. One of the great medieval pilgrimages and the greatest surviving itinerary for medieval monuments and landscapes, it has enjoyed a remarkable revival in recent years, attracting European Union sponsorship, the attention of media stars, and hundreds of thousands of walkers and pilgrims.
In this two-week study tour, participants will walk the route, and meet each day for lectures and discussion of the medieval and pre-modern monuments along the route. The group will meet periodically during the spring 2013 semester to discuss reading assignments and prepare for the walk. An extended essay is required at the end of the course.

See below for further course descriptions and requirements. See also the appended “Statement of Responsibility and Disclosure.”


(1) class readings and discussion will develop techniques and approaches for reading and assessing historical sources and comparing them to a contemporary phenomenon- what is the relationship between past and present on the Camino de Santiago?
(2) presentations in the preparatory sessions and during the tour will concentrate on identifying monuments, their styles, their iconographic programs, and their art historical significance
(3) presentations during the tour will introduce the class to patterns of land use, vernacular architecture and town development
(4) exposure during the tour to customs and culture of northwestern Spain
(5) class assignments, with feedback and revision, will stress effective presentation
(6) class discussion, presentations and written assignments will emphasize how to assess written arguments, gather and use evidence from various sources (written, web-based, personal experience, informal discussion), and present descriptions and theses in light of contemporary theories about ritual, pilgrimage and meaning
(7) daily work en route will challenge participants to consider the relationship between education and experience, the historical setting and contemporary meaning, and classroom assessments and physical activity

Method of Evaluation

Essay (submitted 20 June)…....................................................40%
Discussion in meetings (before and during the study tour)..…..30%

Presentations (before and during the study tour)......................30%


William Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela (1993) [translation of Bk 5 of the Codex calixtinus]

David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook (2000)

Nancy Louise Frey, Pilgrim Stories: On and Off the Road to Santiago, Journeys Along an Ancient Way in Modern Spain (1998)

Jack Hitt, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim's Route into Spain (2005 [1994])

Additional bibliography will be assigned for reports during the spring semester.


Although the historical context supplies the content of this course, much of the experience will be about walking and self-reliance. Participants will need to be prepared and fit. Good shoes or boots, well used and broken in, and a semester-long record of regular walking will be expected of everyone. The instructor will book accommodations in advance. Each participant is responsible, however, for arriving in León by the evening of May 22, and finding their way from place to place each day, plus meals, coursework, and the experience of the Camino.

There are many ways walkers can make themselves miserable, or worse, but remember also that as many as 75,000 pilgrims/walkers will walk the Camino this year (there will probably be 50-100 pilgrims/walkers staying each night in the same towns along the way), and with a little care and preparation, they can all share an unusual and fulfilling experience.


Each destination along the way will have most of the amenities, and at no time does the Camino stray far from villages or major roads, so the gear does not need to be comprehensive. In fact, the lighter the better, because you will be walking five to ten hours each day. Everyone needs good shoes or boots, a light sleeping bag (hostels do not have sheets or blankets), a light backpack, a couple of changes of clothes, water bottles, a hat, sunscreen, etc. The whole kit should not be more than 22 lbs.


We will be staying in private hostels and small hotels along the way. The accommodations are usually dormitory-style. Most do not provide blankets, so a light sleeping bag is required. Course fees will cover the cost of accommodation


Students will be responsible for their own meals. Groceries are available in most villages for breakfasts, breaks and lunches, and bars along the route supply reasonable breakfasts and lunches. For the evening meal, many hostels have kitchens for preparing food, and almost every village has very reasonable restaurants with a “pilgrim’s menu” (bread, first course of pasta or vegetables, second course of meat or fish or eggs, etc., dessert, water, wine, for 7-10 Euros [$10-15]).


In case of blisters, fatigue, heat or emergency, all points on the route are close to taxis or intercity buses. Clinics are accessible, well staffed, and very accommodating to pilgrims. Almost everywhere has cell-phone coverage. We will buy several cell phones for the group, and many other walkers along the Camino will also be carrying cell phones.


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Last modified: October 1, 2010
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