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Courses

SPRING 2015

 

MSCP.  70100 - Introduction to Medieval Studies: Contours of the Medieval West  [27039]  W,  4:15-6:15pm, 3 credits, Sautman Francesca  This introduction to Medieval Studies course is offered to prospective medievalists at the Graduate Center by the Medieval Studies Certificate program.  

It is a general course which addresses at once methods, sources, and major issues and themes of the Western Middle Ages and does so across disciplines. It can thus be also helpful to students in various disciplines with a Middle Ages requirement for their Program and are allowed to cover it with this one course.  

Finally, for those who already have completed medieval course work in their own field, but have not yet worked with the Certificate Program, it can be good way to tie in diverse aspects of medieval studies with their own discipline. The course is thus structured to address the needs of all three groups of doctoral students.

This semester’s course combines these general needs with a somewhat tighter focus around the three themes of time; space, and power--the latter envisaged also through those who lack power, and are disenfranchised or marginalized.

At the end of the course, students should have a good general understanding of the major historical and cultural issues of the European Middle Ages, such as the relationship of art, architecture and society, for instance; they should be aware of the major interpretation issues in the field of Medieval Studies; and be informed of the most current critical, theoretical and methodological trends in Medieval Studies. They should also have developed a preliminary sense of how cultural regions and budding nation states interacted and impacted each other during that period  

Semester Meeting Themes:

1. “Medieval”: What does it mean?  What are the issues of “periodization” and “temporalities?”What does “touching the past” (Carolyn Dinshaw) mean?
2.  Time and Events.  Rencesvals [Roncesvalles] (778), Hastings (1066)
3.  Real Time and Labor: Work, Labor and theiry Symbolic Expression
4.  Inside and Outside of Time: Feast and Celebration
5. Proximity of the Sacred: Cathedral and Church Space, Cemeteries, and Lived     Space.
6. Touching the Sacred, Material Traces: Relics, Cult Objects
7. Political Power Asserted
8.  Power and Gender
9.  Power, Gender, Patronage and the Arts
10. Transgression: Heresy
11.  Transgression: Heresy 2
12.  Transgression: Sexualities
13. “Minding Animals”: the Border(s) between Human and Animal
14.  Excluson Systems and Creating the Margin

The course requirements include:
Completion of assigned readings,
Class attendance,
A take-home midterm essay,
A final research project (about 20 pages),
A presentation of the individual project to the class..

There will also be the option of a different sort of individualized format for completing written work, based on the “portfolio” concept, to be discussed early in the semester with those interested. This format is best suited to those who have specific discipline-based needs and want to expand their practice of medieval studies in relation to their own field.

In all cases, students taking the course for 3 or four credits must expect to complete a full term paper (20-25 pages with bibliography), as well as a midterm and class presentation, or the equivalent, measured in size and time dedicated to the work.
Students taking the course for two credits (French Program and other Programs that offer that credit option) complete the readings, the midterm, and a presentation or short paper (but NO full term paper).

THE FOLLOWING COURSES WILL FULFILL PROGRAM REQUIRMENTS:

ART 83000 Artistic Exchange in the Medieval Mediterranean [27420] R, 9:30-11:30am, Woodfin, Warren  Recent work in the field of Byzantine art has brought to the fore two distinct but related phenomena: the exchange of gifts that serve as agents of political negotiation, and the exchange of artistic motifs, styles, and even artists across political and cultural boundaries. Older generations of scholars took an interest in these issues, but newer methodologies in art history have given new life and urgency to their examination. This seminar will take as its geographic center the city of Constantinople, but will range around the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea to explore points of contact with the Islamic world, the Christian West, and the unstable lands to Byzantium’s north. Anthropological theories of gift exchange together with traditional art-historical methods will help to tease out the agendas encoded in diplomatic gifts. Using a case-study approach, the course will also examine various models of hybrid artistic traditions, as well as strategies of incorporation of or resistance to the art and ideas of neighboring polities. 

CLAS 70200 Latin Rhetoric and Stylistics [27009] R, 6:30-8:30pm, McGowan, Matthew This course offers an introduction to composition in Latin and a survey of prose styles from Cato the Elder to the Vulgate.

Each week we will tackle a different genus scribendi and review individual points of syntax and stylistics via practice exercises and free composition. It is hoped that by the end of the course students will have gained a deeper knowledge of Latin sentence structure and idiom and a greater appreciation for a broad range of prose styles in Latin.

There will be weekly assignments (pensa) that will include sentences for translation and free composition. There will also be weekly reading assignments from E.C. Woodcock's A New Latin Syntax and from other scholars analyzing a particular author's style. The scholarly essays will provide the background for the brief report (= breviarium, c.15 mins.) that every student will be asked to do at least once over the course of the semester. In addition, each week we will read select passages from D.A. Russell's Anthology of Latin Prose (Oxford).

Required Texts (all available on Amazon):

D.A. Russell, Anthology of Latin Prose (Oxford) . E.C. Woodcock, A New Latin Syntax. Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar by B. Gildersleeve and G. Lodge.

Course meets at Fordham, LC Lowenstein, Room 404 PERMISSION OF EO REQUIRED

ENGL 70300 Old English Language & Literature [27377] T, 11:45-1:45pm, Gates, Jay This course is intended as an introduction to the Old English language with an eye to comfortable reading of Old English prose and poetry. Students will acquire a foundation in several genres of Old English literature and, through them, a passing familiarity with Anglo-Saxon culture. An added benefit to studying Old English is the number of insights you will gain into the seeming oddities of Present-Day English, such as discrepancies between spelling and pronunciation, the seemingly chaotic shifts verbs undergo passing from present to past tense, the function of ‘whom’, and why the apostrophes are there in the possessive.

In contrast to the way modern languages tend to be studied, students of Old English will get an intensive and comprehensive introduction to the grammar of the language so that they can comfortably work with normalized texts by the end of the semester.

ENGL 80700 Medieval Conversions [27390] R, 11:45-1:45pm, Kruger, Steven This course examines the significance of religious conversion for medieval literature and culture. We will read a wide range of medieval work in which conversion experience is at the center, and we will also at several points step outside the Middle Ages to see how – at different historical moments – conversion might have operated differently.  The hope is that an intense look at medieval material, with forays backward and forward in time, will strengthen our understanding both of the Middle Ages and of its precursors and legacies.  Though the narrow definition of conversion – as a radical change in one’s religious affiliation – largely determines the material of the course, we also will try to elucidate conversion experience by considering it in relation to other ways in which individuals, communities, and cultures experience radical change. Is it possible, for instance, to think of a change in national affiliation (facilitated, for instance, by emigration/immigration, or forced by conquest) as somehow like religious conversion? Further, although religious conversion may be thought of as largely involving an individual’s system of belief and her/his daily (ritual and ethical) practices, we will ask how fully religious experience can in fact be separated (in the medieval moment specifically, but also, by extension, in other historical moments and cultural locations) from other categories of identity (gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity/nation, class, age). Is the masculinity, for instance, of a Jewish man conceived in the same ways, within dominant medieval (Christian) culture, as the masculinity of a Christian man? If not, does the religious conversion of a Jewish man to Christianity also entail certain changes to his gender identity? Other kinds of question, of course, will emerge as the course proceeds, and I hope that students’ own research interests will in part drive the directions our joint discussion takes.

Course requirements: oral presentation and seminar paper.

HIST 71100 European Crime from the Middle Ages to the Present [27254] W, 4:15-6:15pm, Gibson, Mary This course will examine the development of law and crime in Europe, with an emphasis on France, Germany, England, and Italy. It will begin in the medieval and early modern periods with readings on canon law, witchcraft, and the development of royal courts. Focus will then shift to the Enlightenment, which laid the basis for a revolution in criminal law, the replacement of torture and bodily punishment with imprisonment, and the establishment of modern police forces.

Changes in crime rates and public stereotypes of deviancy will be studied within the context of nation building, industrialization, urbanization, and the construction of the welfare state during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Other topics will include organized crime, the insanity plea, “female crimes” (prostitution abortion, infanticide), the birth of criminology, and totalitarian criminal justice systems. The course will emphasize current debates on methodology and historiography in the field of criminal justice history.

Class requirements include one-page book reviews of the assigned readings (30%); a historiographical paper of 10-12 pages (30%); and oral presentations and class participation (40%). Readings include primary sources, classic interpretations, and current research.

HIST 78110 Violence in Islamic History: Case Studies & Comparisons [27258], R, 2:00-4:00pm, Robinson, Chase & Akasoy, Anna NO AUDITORS  This course offers an introduction to practices and discourses of violence, mainly in the public sphere and as directed against non-Muslim actors, that took place in the pre-modern Islamic world. Amongst the topics to be explored are the circumstances that lead to violence, patterns and forms of violence, rituals connected with the display of violence, and theories and modes of legitimating violence.

Much of the course follows a chronological order, but we will be posing more or less consistently the thematic question of the relationship between religion and violence, especially the putative connection between monotheism and violence. We will be working with primary as well as secondary sources, focusing on textual traditions, but exploring visual culture as well.

We will begin by situating practices and views of violence in the Late Antiquity, especially but not exclusively as practiced by Christians, before examining the tribal violence of pre-Islamic Arabia. We will then focus on violence in the Qur’an and its early Christian reception, the early Islamic conquests (including a comparison with other conquest movements), and the emergence of the doctrines of Jihad and martyrdom during the 8th and 9th centuries. Against the background of this ‘classical’ history and doctrines, we shall explore selected topics such as the Crusades (including their Muslim responses), the rise of the Ottoman empire through conquest, warfare between the Ottomans and the Safavids, and recent cases of Islamist violence

PHIL 76400 Augustine’s Confessions [27175] R, 11:45-1:45pm, Grover, Stephen
This course has one obvious goal: familiarity with a fascinating and fundamental text. Its other goals include giving students confidence in approaching Latin texts of which there are already good translations; turning their attention to Augustine, one of the greatest arguers ever, so often lopped off Ancient but too early to be Medieval; relating the text to its context, North Africa in the late Roman Empire, now in the grip of the Church; examining Augustine's views on mind and language, and comparing them to the 'traps in thinking' of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations; testing Augustine's solution to the problem of evil.

Here are three of many questions the course will ask:

Can we read philosophically in translation? This course requires no Latin but will use an online Latin text alongside Chadwick's translation (Oxford World Classics). I have 'schoolboy Latin': this means that I learned Latin as a schoolboy but have since forgotten it. Augustine's Latin is stylized in ways no English translation captures. Passages contain as many internal rhymes as rap lyrics. Like any translator, Chadwick faced tricky issues of word choice. Where word choice is tricky there is often something philosophically interesting at stake. A simple example is the translation of anima as 'soul' or 'mind'.

Is there a Christian Platonism? Augustine's first real encounter with Platonism came not long before his conversion, when he read some 'books of the Platonists' translated into Latin. These, together with the Epistles of Paul, helped clear away the remaining obstacles to Catholic Christianity in his mind; in particular, to finally settle for him the question, 'Where does evil come from?'

Is the 'Augustinian picture' a picture of Augustine? Wittgenstein begins the Investigations by quoting Augustine's account of learning to speak. From this a view of language is extracted that Wittgenstein then 'investigates to bits' with the method characteristic of his later philosophy. Is Augustine someone caught in the traps in thinking the Investigations catalogues? Someone, therefore, like the author of Tractatus Logico Philosophicus? Enquiries to: stephen.grover@qc.cuny.edu