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Graduate Courses

CEMERS Spring 2010 Course Offerings

HIST 552T Black Death & Medieval Society

Instructor: Winston E Black


The Black Death of 1348-51 was one of the defining ecological events of Eurasian history, and plague continued to return regularly for four more centuries. Every culture struck by the plague reacted dramatically in its own fashion, and in Europe the Black Death shook medieval Christian society to its roots. Students in this seminar will study the social, religious, artistic, and scientific responses to plague in late medieval Europe through close readings of primary and secondary sources, and the study of works of art.

Students will be assessed by active preparation and participation (20%), two oral presentations (20%), and a major research paper (15-20 pages for undergrad, 25-30 pages for grad) on a key aspect or historiographical issue related to the Black Death (60%, with formal proposal and revision).

M 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM

MDVL 561A Dante’s Divine Comedy

Instructor: Holmes


A close reading of the DIVINE COMEDY in its historical-cultural context, in order to experience and appreciate Dante's masterpiece both as a supreme artistic achievement and a great human being's vision of the world. Both those who have studied Dante and those who have not are welcome. FORMAT: Scheduled class meetings conducted in English, while an additional hour per week will be arranged for students reading the COMMEDIA in Italian. Requirements include class participation, two examinations, several short papers and a bibliography. Students taking the course for graduate credit write a research paper.

T/R 1:15 PM – 2:40 PM

MDVL 561I Medieval Latin, Codicology & Paleography

Instructor: Van Der Meer


Offered once a year, this seminar has two goals:

1) to introduce students to the Latin language and literature of the late antique and medieval periods (ca. A.D. 200-1500).

2) to provide a theoretical and practical foundation for reading medieval manuscripts.

Designed to move students toward independent work with Medieval Latin, the first part of the course emphasizes the close reading and careful translation of Medieval Latin texts and documents, with attention to vocabulary, orthography and syntax. The texts change each year, this year, the focus in on historiographical literature.

Also designed to impart basic skills for independent research in medieval studies, the seminar will cover techniques for transcribing medieval texts.

To support both goals, the course will include a survey of the development of scripts in the Middle Ages and of methods used in editing medieval texts, as well as an introduction to the most important reference works used in Medieval Latin scholarship, including lexica and bibliographies.

REQUIREMENTS: One year of Latin at college level. Please contact the instructor if you have questions about your qualifications.

M 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM

MDVL 561K Medieval Icons: Art & Architecture

Instructor: Barbara Abou-El-Haj


Medieval Icons: Case Studies of Art and Architecture and their Modern Metamorphoses

What happens when the sites of a time long past remain part of the landscape, but the landscape has been transformed visually, culturally, politically over centuries? How have sites that once projected the interests of medieval power brokers become modern objects of colliding interests, depositories of political ideology and reservoirs of cultural capital?

This seminar is structured as a series of case studies.

Sites and topics of interest: St. Peter's: the churches of Constantine, the Counter Reformation Papacy, and Italian Unification; Vézelay: the abbey of Hugh of Poitiers' Chronicle and the church of Viollet-le-Duc and the Monuments Historiques; Santiago de Compostela: the pilgrimage church of Diego Gelmírez, and the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) of Leo XIII, Francisco Franco and the European Union; Reims: the Coronation Cathedral from Hincmar to the Revolution and Restoration, to 1914, 1945 and Franco-German reconciliation; Chartres and Amiens: lordship and commune, myths of consensus and cooperation; the Bayeux Tapestry: from post-Conquest political ideology to an historical imaginary; Durham and the cult of Cuthbert in Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and Catholic Revival England; The Dome of the Rock: Centerpiece in Umayyad, Hashemite and Israeli Jerusalem.

Format: Weekly readings and discussions. One conference-length research paper presented, revised and submitted at the end of the semester.

T 4:25 PM – 7:25 PM

MDVL 561M Cervantes: Exemplary Novels

Instructor: Fajardo


Attributes: H - Humanities

We will examine Cervantes's NOVELAS EJEMPLARES and several ENTREMESES. Our aim will be to discuss the formal aspects of these works with special attention to their historical context. Our theoretical approach will emphasize the reading process as we develop strategies for identifying the various "exemplary" components of the fiction, and the socio-cultural, as well as dramatic, components of the ENTREMESES. Taught in Spanish.


T 4:25 PM – 7:25 PM

MDVL 561R The Traffic in Images in Early Modern England

Instructor: Andrew Walkling


This course will explore issues surrounding the creation, circulation, and display of visual representations in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, taking into account the material and cognitive circulation of two- and three-dimensional images, including portrait, allegorical, and topographical painting; tapestry; numismatics; and encomiastic and commemorative sculpture. Subjects to be investigated will include the market for paintings and other images; the modalities of transport of images across and through physical space; the character of collections and the particulars of their display, as well as their assembly and dismantling; the structures of patronage in the art world; and the reproduction and dissemination of original images in printed form. Several class meetings will be devoted to presentations from outside scholars working in the field, who will be brought to campus to deliver papers to the CEMERS colloquium and to participate in the work of this course.

W 1:10 PM – 4:10 PM

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Last Updated: 5/10/10