Course Offerings

Fall 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval

ARTH 101 - Van Loan, Theodore

Chronological survey of Western art from the Paleolithic Age through the Middle Ages in Italy and Northern Europe. Examination of cultural and stylistic influences in the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Consideration of distinct interests of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Europe. Focus on major monuments and influential images produced up to circa 1400.

Survey of Western Art: Ancient to Medieval

ARTH 101 - Bent, George R.

Chronological survey of Western art from the Paleolithic Age through the Middle Ages in Italy and Northern Europe. Examination of cultural and stylistic influences in the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Consideration of distinct interests of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval Europe. Focus on major monuments and influential images produced up to circa 1400.

Medieval Art in Italy

ARTH 350 - Bent, George R.

Art and architecture of the Italian peninsula, from circa 1200 to 1400. This seminar addresses issues of patronage, artistic training and methods of production, iconography, and the function of religious and secular imagery. Topics of discussion include the construction of Tuscan cathedrals and civic buildings; sculpture in Siena, Pisa, and Rome; and painting in Assisi, Padua, and Florence.

ENGL252-01/MRST252-01 Shakespeare

ENGL 252 - King, Emily L.

Same as MRST 252. A study of the major genres of Shakespeare's plays, employing analysis shaped by formal, historical, and performance-based questions. Emphasis is given to tracing how Shakespeare's work engages early modern cultural concerns, such as the nature of political rule, gender, religion, and sexuality. A variety of skills are developed in order to assist students with interpretation, which may include verse analysis, study of early modern dramatic forms, performance workshops, two medium-length papers, reviews of live play productions, and a final, student-directed performance of a selected play.

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

ENGL 313 - Kao, Wan-Chuan

This course considers the primary work on which Chaucer's reputation rests: The Canterbury Tales. We pay sustained attention to Chaucer's Middle English at the beginning of the semester to ease the reading process. Then we travel alongside the Canterbury pilgrims as they tell their tales under the guise of a friendly competition. The Canterbury Tales is frequently read as a commentary on the social divisions in late medieval England, such as the traditional estates, religious professionals and laity, and gender hierarchies. But despite the Tales' professed inclusiveness of the whole of English society, Chaucer nonetheless focuses inordinately on those individuals from the emerging middle classes. Our aim is to approach the Tales from the practices of historicization and theorization; that is, we both examine Chaucer's cultural and historical contexts and consider issues of religion, gender, sexuality, marriage, conduct, class, chivalry, courtly love, community, geography, history, power, spirituality, secularism, traditional authority, and individual experience. Of particular importance are questions of voicing and writing, authorship and readership. Lastly, we think through Chaucer's famous Retraction at the end" of The Canterbury Tales, as well as Donald R. Howard's trenchant observation that the Tale is "unfinished but complete." What does it mean for the father of literary "Englishness" to end his life's work on the poetic principle of unfulfilled closure and on the image of a society on the move?"

European History, 325-1517

HIST 100 - Michelmore, Mary (Molly)

An introductory survey, featuring lectures and discussions of European culture, politics, religion and social life, and of Europe's relations with neighboring societies, from the rise of Christianity in Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages and the Italian Renaissance, to the beginnings of the 16th-century Protestant and Catholic Reformations.

The World of Islam: Origins to 1500

HIST 170 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course surveys the political, social, and cultural history of the Islamic World from the 7th to 15th centuries, with particular attention paid to the diverse geographical and cultural contexts in which pre-modern Islamic civilization flourished. Topics include the origins of Islam in late Antiquity; the development of Islamic religious, political, and cultural institutions; the flourishing of medieval Islamic education, science, and literature; the tension among state, ethnic, sectarian, and global Muslim identities; and the emergence of a distinctly Muslim approach to historiography.

Pre-Modern Chinese Literature in Translation

LIT 218 - Zhu, Yanhong

A survey of Chinese literature from the earliest period to the founding of the Republic in 1912. Taught in English, the course presupposes no previous knowledge of China or Chinese culture. The literature is presented in the context of its intellectual, philosophical and cultural background. Texts used may vary from year to year and include a wide selection of fiction, poetry, historical documents, Chinese drama (opera) and prose works. Audiovisual materials are used when appropriate and available.

Ancient Greek Philosophy

PHIL 110 - Goldberg, Nathaniel J.

An examination of the metaphysics of the pre-Socratic philosophers, especially the Milesians, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno of Elea, and the Atomists, and the ethics and political philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Topics include the origin and nature of the kosmos , the nature and existence of the god(s), the trial and execution of Socrates, theories of virtue, the nature of knowledge and truth, justice and the ideal state, the nature of eudaimonia (happiness, flourishing), and the possibility of akrasia (weakness of the will).

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

REL 101 - Filler, Emily A.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).

Magic, Science, and Religion

REL 225 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

How do religious and scientific explanations and methods of inquiry differ? What are the roles of reason and authority in each case? This course draws together materials from antiquity to the present, from the West and from Asia, to illustrate a variety of types of systems of "knowledge." Theoretical readings are balanced with diverse case studies from diverse contexts: religious doctrines, mystical practices, alchemy, astrology, sorcery, "traditional medicines," and modern religious movements. Students research a system of their choice and analyze its claims and methods in comparison with those of other traditions covered in the course.

Introducción a la literatura española

SPAN 220 - Mayock, Ellen C.

Spanish literary masterpieces from the Poema del Cid through the present. Readings and discussions are primarily in Spanish.

El Cid in History and Legend

SPAN 333 - Bailey, Matthew J.

A study of the most significant portrayals of the Castilian warrior Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid (1045-1099), from his 12th-century biography Historia Roderici to the Hollywood blockbuster El Cid . Epic poems, late medieval ballads, and Renaissance drama all recreate the legendary life of El Cid. This course examines the relevant narratives in an effort to determine the heroic values and attributes recreated by authors and their audiences for nearly a thousand years.

Spring 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

ENGL241-01/FILM241-01 Cinema Arthuriana

ENGL 241 - Kao, Wan-Chuan

This course is a survey of Arthurian films and an introduction to film studies. We will read select premodern and modern texts and examine a variety of films across the twentieth• and the twenty-first centuries. The course begins with Arthur the messianic hero, then proceeds to the romance of the Holy Grail, the tribulations of Gawain, and finally the American repurposing of matters of Arthur. H film is an escapist medium, it is first and foremost a mirror to society that reflects its cultural fantasies and structural imaginaries. We will consider forms of medievalism and forces of ideology and periodization that these films embody and project, as well as reception theories and on our own historical contingencies.

Topics in European History: Illegal Republics: Self-governance in the Middle Ages

HIST 229F - Vise, Melissa E.

It’s the eleventh century and Europe’s political imagination is dominated by single leaders: popes and bishops, monarchs and local rulers. But you’re a city in the north of Italy where a vacuum of power, a memory of Rome, and a vibrant mercantile community conspire to form something not seen in centuries: the republic. How do you do it? Max Weber famously termed these cities “illegal republics” as they stood completely outside the scope of extant medieval jurisprudence. Church officials and emperors were inclined to agree with him. But that did not stop the political reimagining that these cities effected. In this Spring Term course, students will encounter the history of these first Western republics since Rome turned imperial. They will construct a final group project that imagines something that the cities themselves never experienced: a medieval constitutional convention.

Winter 2024

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Survey of Western Art: Renaissance to the Present

ARTH 102 - King, Elliott H.

Chronological survey of Western art from the Renaissance through the present. Topics include the Renaissance, from its cultural and stylistic origins through the Mannerist movement; the Baroque and Rococo; the Neoclassical reaction; Romanticism and Naturalism; the Barbizon School and Realism; Impressionism and its aftermath; Fauvism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and the Postmodern reaction to Modernism.

Medieval Art in Southern Europe

ARTH 253 - Bent, George R.

Examination of the art and culture of Italy and Greece from the rise of Christianity to the first appearance of bubonic plague in 1348. Topics include early Christian art and architecture; Byzantine imagery in Ravenna and Constantinople during the Age of Justinian; iconoclasm; mosaics in Greece, Venice and Sicily; sculpture in Pisa; and the development of panel and fresco painting in Rome, Florence, Siena and Assisi.

Northern Renaissance Art

ARTH 255 - Bent, George R.

A survey of Northern painting from 1300 to 1600, examined as symbols of political, religious, and social concerns of painters, patrons, and viewers. Among the artists covered are Campin, van Eyck, van der Weyden, Durer, Holbein, and Brueghel. Emphasis placed on interpretation of meaning and visual analysis.

Shakespeare

ENGL 252 - King, Emily L.

Same as MRST 252. A study of the major genres of Shakespeare's plays, employing analysis shaped by formal, historical, and performance-based questions. Emphasis is given to tracing how Shakespeare's work engages early modern cultural concerns, such as the nature of political rule, gender, religion, and sexuality. A variety of skills are developed in order to assist students with interpretation, which may include verse analysis, study of early modern dramatic forms, performance workshops, two medium-length papers, reviews of live play productions, and a final, student-directed performance of a selected play.

Arthurian Bodies, Desires, and Affects

ENGL 315 - Kao, Wan-Chuan

During the medieval and early modern periods, King Arthur and his court served as the foundational models of courtly love, chivalry, and political discourse in the West. Yet artists have rendered Arthurian personae as bodies that feel deeply and follow the pull of desires, and in so doing, produce counter subjectivities. This course surveys the premodern Arthurian literary traditions through theoretical lenses grounded in women's, queer, and trans studies. We examine the myths of Arthur's heroic masculinity and Camelot, the adulterous love triangle at the heart of courtly love, the uncanny trans embodiment and queer sensibility of knighthood, the marriage plot, the uneven gendering of negative affects, the trans-species borders of the animal and the human, and alternate forms of sociality. 

England in the Age of Shakespeare

HIST 255 - Brock, Michelle D. (Mikki)

"This class uses the dates of Shakespeare's life (1564-1616) as our chronological frame to explore the history of England during the profoundly important reigns of Elizabeth I and James VI and I. Together we examine the era of personal monarchy and the growing resistance of parliament, the encounters with "others" beyond England's shores, the relationship between gender and power, the spread of religious convictions and contradictions, colonialism and the beginnings of the British Empire, and the great literary and artistic figures of the day. We also investigate what life was like for the average men and women who lived and died during England's "golden age." "

Seminar: Speech and Censorship in the Middle Ages

HIST 310 - Vise, Melissa E.

What is censorship, where does it happen, and why? To most U.S. Americans, the Middle Ages is an era known for Inquisition, book burning, and the brutal silencing of political and religious dissent. Yet, compared to more modern censoring institutions, the institutions of medieval Europe held much weaker powers of enforcement, different motives for censoring, and ambiguous technologies to do so. What and who could censor (or be censored) in a society without the printing press? Among other topics, we cover the public vs. private spheres; artistic liberty; religious vs. political concerns; gender; and the role of and limitations upon the modern historian investigating a censored past.

Medieval and Renaissance Culture: Humanities

MRST 110 - Vise, Melissa E.

An introduction to the interdisciplinary study of the Medieval and Renaissance periods through the study of a particular topic. Recent studies: Elizabethan England, and Life and Death in Dante's Florence.

Directed Individual Study

MRST 403 - Radulescu, Domnica V.

Individual study of selected topics in Medieval and Renaissance studies.

Directed Individual Study: Cultures in Contact in Medieval Iberia

MRST 403A - Bailey, Matthew J.

In medieval Spain Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted in the Iberian Peninsula for nearly eight hundred years under Muslim or Christian rule. The three cultures were in constant contact, although much of their intellectual and creative legacy remained separate. The purpose of this course is to examine the works that reflect the cultural currents of the period, especially as they shed light on the nature of the coexistence among Muslims, Jews, and Christians and how they influenced one another. This focused examination surrounding religious tolerance, coexistence, and conflict, encourages a nuanced perspective of this transitional period in Iberian history. This capstone will identify Jewish, Muslim, and Christian perspectives and trace religious conversions utilizing a variety of sources. These perspectives will be derived from prominent scholars, philosophers, and political figures including Ibn Hazm, Pedro Alfonso, Averroes, Maimonides, and Alfonso X. This is a complex narrative, and the goal of the capstone is to understand and highlight the intricate interplay of cultural and religious forces during this transformative period.

Music History I

MUS 201 - Konishi, Akiko

A survey of music from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period.

New Testament

REL 102 - Brown, Alexandra R.

An introduction to the history, literature and interpretation of the New Testament.

Judaism: Tradition and Modernity

REL 106 - Filler, Emily A.

This course is an introduction to the rituals, concepts, and practices of Judaism from antiquity to the present day. Through a wide variety of sources, including rabbinic debate, fiction, drama, liturgy, memoirs, film, and history, we will consider how the Jewish tradition has developed, changed, and interacted with other traditions. Particular attention will be paid to the development of modern Jewish movements and communities.

The Qur'an

REL 108 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

This course approaches the Qur'an from a range of modern and pre-modern perspectives: as an oral recitation; as a material object; as a historical document; as a literary text; as a foundation for Islamic law, theology and mysticism; and as a source for ethics and social activism. Particular attention is devoted to issues of gender and politics raised by the Qur'an.

Buddhism

REL 131 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

A survey of the historical development of the doctrines and practices of Buddhism. After a discussion of the Hindu origins of Buddhism, the course focuses on the development of the Theravada, Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions. A class trip to at least one Buddhist center is included.

Special Topics in Religion: Religion and Ecology

REL 295E - Wilner, Addison B. (Blair)

The study of ecology raises many important questions: How do we understand our relations to the human and other-than-human environment? What traditions of thought and practice have shaped our natural and built environments? What resources do our traditions offer for responding to the environmental crisis we see in the world today? This course investigates religious, philosophical, and theoretical approaches to these and other questions. In particular, it considers responses from religious traditions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, while raising issues of colonialism, race, gender, and political economy.

Spanish Civilization and Culture

SPAN 211 - Mayock, Ellen C.

A survey of significant developments in Spanish civilization. The course addresses Spanish heritage and the present-day cultural patterns formed by its legacies. Readings, discussions and papers, primarily in Spanish, for further development of communication skills.

Introducción a la literatura española

SPAN 220 - Mayock, Ellen C.

Spanish literary masterpieces from the Poema del Cid through the present. Readings and discussions are primarily in Spanish.

Creating Meaning

THTR 342 - Levy, Jemma A.

Shakespeare is OLD and DEAD.  Why do students still study his plays and theatre companies still perform them?  Does he have anything left to say to us?  Is his work relevant to the world we live in now?  This is an acting class for the lovers and the haters, the readers and the performers.  First we will explore ways to perform Shakespeare’s texts for a modern world while exploding preconceived notions about them.  Then we will use contemporary devising techniques to create and perform our own new work using Shakespeare as a jumping off point.