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Courses

SPRING 2019

 

MSCP 80500.  Credo?: The Question of Belief in Medieval Christian Devotion.  Mondays 11:45AM-1:45PM, Room TBA. 3 credits, Prof. Lauren Mancia. 

There are limits to what we can know as scholars about what medieval people really believed and felt. For this reason, medievalists often feel more comfortable focusing on how medieval people used religion as a tool to some more worldly end. But did medieval people really believe, and did they feel their faith as deeply as they claimed? What methods can we employ, and what evidence can we uncover, that will give us access to the lived experience of medieval religion and belief? To answer this question, we will focus on performative devotion, holy matter, religious art and praxis, theology and prayer, healing texts and miracle stories. But our investigations will also reach beyond traditional religious sources for evidence, applying medieval theories of authenticity in documentary practices to the questions above, for example, and experimenting with modern theoretical lenses such as affect theory. Students will each complete a final research paper that delves into questions of ‘authentic’ medieval faith and ‘lived’ religious ‘experience’ in any place or period of the Middle Ages and in any medieval media they choose. 



FALL 2018

MSCP 80500.  The Multimedia Songbook.  Mondays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 3491. 3 credits, Prof. Anne Stone.  Cross-listed with MUS 86100.

The insight that medieval manuscripts are more than transparent conduits of textual information has informed a great deal of scholarship in recent decades. Manuscripts are “living entities” (Marisa Galvez), interaction with which is like a “conversation with a famous person” (Christopher De Hamel); or manuscripts are a “theater” (Pamela Sheingorn and Marilyn Desmond) whose juxtaposition of text and image has the power to control the reading experience; or they are a country (Justin Steinberg) with “its own economy, its own language or codes.” The fact that so many of the metaphors that we use to describe manuscripts invoke motion and animation when they are in fact solid, static artifacts attests to the power of the experience of encountering them.

Drawing on recent work in material philology, and aided by the explosion of availability of high-quality digital images of many late-medieval manuscripts, this seminar will survey a variety of manuscripts from the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries whose pages contain text, image, and music: Troubadour and trouvère manuscripts; Italian poetry and song manuscripts; French motet manuscripts; and manuscript transmissions of narrative dits. The goal is to get to know a select number of manuscripts very well, and to begin to have “intimate conversations” (De Hamel) with them. We will read and discuss recent studies that demonstrate the kinds of meanings that can be gleaned from detailed consideration of manuscript pages, including late medieval reading practices, authorial self-presentation, the development of innovative hybrid genres such as the prosimetrum, and the scribe and illuminator’s role in creating meaning.

Requirements: weekly reading and participation in the form of short presentations and/or reading responses. Music students are required to attend a third hour in which we learn to read the various musical notations we encounter in the sources; other students are welcome to attend this hour as well.
In the first half of the semester, each student will select a manuscript to study and present on, culminating in a short paper (5-7 pages). In the second half of the semester, students will work on a research project that has a close encounter with a manuscript as its basis, culminating in a 20-30-minute conference-paper length presentation.
 



MSCP 79800.  Independent Studies – Old Irish.  Fridays 5:30PM-7:30PM, Room TBA. 3 credits, Prof. Thomas Ihde.  Cross-listed with IRI 70100 (Lehman College)

This course provides an introduction to Old Irish and short texts written in the 8th and 9th century.

Old Irish, one of the first European languages to develop an extensive literature after Latin and Greek, is the earliest literary form of the modern Goidelic languages, Modern Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. A study of Old Irish also provides insights to the origin of the Indo-European family of languages. This course will present students with an opportunity to study the grammar of Old Irish and enable them to develop skills for comprehending Old Irish texts. Students will acquire a competent reading knowledge of Old Irish to enable them to comprehend basic texts in original manuscript versions and research publications, interpret short literary texts in Old Irish, aurally comprehend and read out-loud short passages in Old Irish with approximated pronunciation, and make original contributions to interpretations of Old Irish texts.
This is a hybrid course with a weekly 90-minute in-classroom meeting and an additional 70 minutes of activities provided on-line. No previous experience with Old Irish or Modern Irish needed. For more information and assistance registering please e-mail tihde@gc.cuny.edu .


THE FOLLOWING COURSES WILL FULFILL PROGRAM ELECTIVE REQUIREMENTS:

ART 72000. Art of Late Antiquity.  Thursdays, 11:45am-1:45PM, Room TBA. 3 credits, Prof. Rachel Kousser.


Romans of the Late Antique era (roughly the third to seventh centuries CE)
witnessed an increasingly authoritarian monarchy, the spread of a new evangelical religion, and,
in their visual arts, an abrupt stylistic change from the idealized naturalism of the Greco-Roman canon to a new, more conceptual and abstract art that presaged that of the Middle Ages. From Franz Wickhoff and Alois Riegl onward, these changes have formed a central topic of art history, and they have recently attracted increased attention from scholars such as Peter Brown. This class draws on recent scholarship to re-examine the full range of visual production in late antiquity, from monumental baths and churches to domestic mosaics, sacred and secular illuminated manuscripts, and meticulously carved ivories. Major topics to be addressed include: the representation of imperial authority, the creation of a new visual language for Christian art, villa culture in late antiquity, and the visual ramifications of the conflict between polytheism and
Christianity.
 
CL 80100.  The Faust Legend.  Thursdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Room TBA, 2-4 credits. Prof. Paul Oppenheimer.

Few figures in Western literature have attracted as much continuous interest from as many important writers, artists, composers and film-makers as that of Doctor Faustus, the mysterious sixteenth-century physician and necromancer whose legendary pact with the devil granted him superhuman powers. Starting with the earliest published version of the story, the famous Faust Book dating from 1587 in Frankfurt (also available in translation), the course will explore strikingly different treatments of Faust’s career by Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, and Thomas Mann, and the conflicting views of humanity’s relations to nature and the divine implied by their masterpieces. Also investigated will be the influence of the Faust story on writers as diverse as Byron, Carlyle, Dostoyevski, Pushkin, Hawthorne, Paul Valéry, and Lawrence Durrell. Films such as Mephisto, Hanusen, and Bedazzled, which approach the story and its motif of the devil pact in modern ways, will be considered and, where possible, shown; operatic and other musical treatments will also be considered, along with the Faust legend’s impact on painting.--One brief in-class presentation. One research paper.
 
MES 73500.  Topics in Ottoman History: Global Renaissance.  Mondays, 4:15pm-6:15pm.  Room TBA, 3 credits.  Prof. Anna Akasoy.

The Renaissance has been considered the period in which Europe or the West more generally came into its own. Having recovered the classical Greek heritage from its Arab custodians after the ‘dark ages’, Europe, led by Italian humanists, prepared itself for Enlightenment, secularization and modernization. In this course, we will explore this historical narrative critically, focusing on two aspects:
1) We will discuss to what extent the Renaissance is a uniquely western European phenomenon of the early modern period. We will be discussing Jack Goody’s Renaissances. The One or the Many? as well as Charles Homer Haskins’s idea of a twelfth-century Renaissance and Joel Kraemer’s study of intellectual culture in medieval Iraq under Buyid rule (Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam).
2) We are going to explore the Renaissance and the formation of European identity within the context of entangled or connected histories, focusing especially on the relationship between Italy and the Ottoman Empire. We will survey responses to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and the attempts of Italian humanists to explain the origins and rise of the Ottomans in terms of classical geography and history. We will select examples from Margaret Meserve’s Empires of Islam in Renaissance Historical Thought and analyze by way of contrast the Saidian paradigm in Nancy Bisaha’s Creating East and West. Renaissance Humanists and the Ottoman Turks. We will also discuss Renaissance crusade literature and the reformulation of medieval tropes. While most of the material covered in this course is textual, we will also pay attention to visual and material sources such as Gentile Bellini’s portrait of Mehmed II and the circulation of objects around in the Mediterranean in particular. For the latter, we will be discussing contributions in The Renaissance and the Ottoman World, edited by Anna Contadini and Claire Norton. While most of the course will focus on Italy (including Natalie Rothman’s Brokering Empire. Trans-Imperial Subjects between Venice and Istanbul and Deborah Howard’s Venice and the East), for comparative purposes we will also consider the relationship between England and the Islamic world (Early Modern England and Islamic Worlds, edited by Linda McJannet and Bernadette Andrea).