This course examines the rise of crusading in the medieval world. Focusing on the first three crusades to the Middle East, we will explore how and why people went on crusade, what their friends and wives thought of their going, and the general reception of crusading in the west. Equally, we will explore the reception of the crusaders in the Middle East, how Muslims and Byzantines understood the influx of westerners and the violence that ensued. The class will be a mix of lecture and discussion, with one research project, one group project, and two short papers.
This course explores the experiences of Christian, Jews, and Muslims in the European Middle Ages, from 1096 to 1492. The course looks at the level of toleration and tension in Iberia, the pogroms against the Jews in northern Europe, and the encounters between all three religions due to the Crusades. Themes will include Economic Interactions, Cultural Exchanges, Violence, and Religious Identity and Community. This course fulfills the second writing requirement. Students will write a sustained research paper and be introduced to techniques of historical research at the college level.
This course is designed for the intelligent, motivated student interested in history, society, and/or medieval Europe. The topics are organized as something of a late medieval sampler platter, providing students with both some of the greatest hits and, in culinary terms, amuse-bouches to spark interest in the Middle Ages. The selections are meant to intrigue, amuse, and delight, while still being a representative entry into European culture and society between 1200 and 1500. By the end of the course, students will come away not only with anecdotes, but a sense of the trajectory of life and society in Western Christendom, covering Daily Life, Beliefs, Interpersonal Interactions, Economics, Arts and Entertainment, and Reactions to Current Events (including wars and protests). The course is offered as a lecture class and readings will consist of monographs, articles, and primary source materials. Assessment is based on written exams, reading reflection papers, a research paper, and a final oral exam.
Crime is a constant in human civilization, but what constitutes a criminal offense is not. From 1200 to 1500, medieval jurists, judges, kings, theologians, and accused criminals all debated when an offense rose to the level of a crime and the appropriate response it entailed. The Middle Ages is also known as a time of spectacular punishments, from trial by fire to drawing and quartering. As a class, we will explore the nature of crime and its punishments in an attempt to better understand a time often depicted as lawless and cruel.
We will look at the mundane, such as murder and theft, as well as the more extraordinary, as for example putting animals on trial. We will explore crime from the perspective of law, society, religion, and popular representations of criminals like Robin Hood. Apart from cruel and chaotic, the Middle Ages have also been deemed a time of rampant superstition and foolishness: how else to understand putting mice on trial for having eaten grain? This course will deal directly with these preconceptions in exploring how the Middle Ages also gave us the first European articulation of due process for all defendants and the right to a lawyer.
The course is run as weekly discussions that draw upon primary sources and academic literature. Students will learn how to read law codes and court cases as historians as they develop a historian’s skill to analyze primary documents. Students will write periodic primary and secondary source analyses along with standard analytical papers.
The Black Death figures as one of those motifs of history whose fame can be attributed to its devastation: 1/3 of Europe’s population wiped out, new powers of autonomy for the peasants, obsession with the end of days and the frailty of human existence. And of course rats. Or is was it actually, as a recent study just suggests, thanks to gerbils? If we can’t even trust the rats, what else might we misapprehend about the Plague?
This course explores not just the vectors of the disease and the devastation it wrought, but how people at the time understood that devastation. Plagues and unexplained illnesses were not new to the fourteenth century, so is it right to say that people in 1348 knew that they were living through something different? The goal of this course is to introduce students to the late medieval experience of the Black Death through reading about medical practices, social relations, political responses, literary imaginings, and legal transactions. In doing so, students will not only gain a deeper understanding of the Black Death and the late medieval world, they will learn how to evaluate scholarly arguments, put texts in dialogue with one another, and mine primary materials.
In the first part of this course, students will meet regularly in a seminar, discussing monographs and select documents together. Students should expect a reading load of approximately one monograph a week, in addition to supplemental primary sources. These weeks are in preparation for the second phase, in which students will be writing a substantial research paper on any aspect of the Black Death, designed in consultation with the professor. At the end of the semester, students will have the opportunity to receive feedback from their peers prior to submission of the final draft.