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Fall 2015

MSCP 80500 Bastards, Kingship, and Kinship in Medieval Europe [28578] W, 2:00-4:00pm, Prof. Sara McDougall, 3 credits Cross listed with HIST 70400
This course will investigate ideas of illegitimate birth in medieval Europe and particularly their role in dynastic succession.  Throughout the Middle Ages some children were classified as less worthy than others: less worthy to inherit royal or noble title, and less worthy to inherit property more generally. This class will critically examine the history of when people in medieval Europe began to identify other people as "bastards," what they meant when they did so, and when calling a child a bastard meant his or her exclusion from succession or an inheritance. We will make use of a wide rage of primary sources available in the original and in translation, sources including chronicles, legal texts, theological writings, vernacular literature, and images.  

ART 74000 – Topics in Islamic Art & Architecture: Early and Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture (ca. 632-1250) [28577] T., 6:30 – 8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, Rm TBA  Cross-listed with MALS 74400/MES 78000 email:  

Since the emergence of Islam in seventh-century Arabia, the world of Islam, which spanscontinents and centuries, has produced art and architecture that is as remarkable as it is diverse. How to define Islamic art, however, is more complex. Unlike Christian, Jewish or Buddhist art,the art produced in the lands where Islam was a dominant religious, political or cultural force is commonly referred to as “Islamic Art”.
This course aims to introduce students to the Islamic art and architecture by framing the emergence of Islamic visual and material culture in Late Antiquity to better understand the monuments, art and architecture produced during first centuries of Islam. The course also introduces the major theoretical and methodological issuesinvolved in the study of Islamic art and architecture, while also focusing on the development of critical visual skills. This course will present an overview of a specific period, dynasty, or region in Islamic art and then focus on an extended discussion of a monument or object in each class. Visits to the MET and other museums will also be planned.
(1) Completion of all readings and informed participation in class.
(2) An object / building report on a specific work of art, monument or building (no more than 4,000 words) due at the middle of the semester.
(3) A picture-based final examination, where students are asked to write about specific objects, monuments, and architecture.
ART 83000– Seminar: Selected Topics in Medieval Art and Architecture: Performance and Devotion in Medieval Art [28571], Thurs. 11:45 am – 1:45 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Cynthia Hahn, Rm 3421  Office hours: TBA email:
Medieval art is not art for art’s sake. It consists of material objects created to facilitate interaction with viewers, spaces, and other objects in dense and complex ways. This seminar will consider the literature on performance and devotional art to investigate interactions and points of contact.
The primary focus of our investigation will be liturgical and devotionalmaterials, especially manuscripts and reliquaries. Readings will include basics on performance such as work by J.L. Austin and Judith Butler, and essays from Visualizing Medieval Performance, as well as Jill Stevenson, Performance, Cognitive Theory, and Devotional Culture, and also, work on devotion by Jeffrey Hamburger. The class will visit the Morgan Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and interact with the curators.
ENGL 80700.  - Small Things, M,  2:00PM-4:00PM.Room TBA, Prof. Karl Steel 2/4 credits. [28556]
Critical animal theory has tended to focus on larger animals, while ecocriticism has tended to focus on systems. What, however, of small, only seemingly inconsequential things? This course will range from Lucretius to Muffet, Hooke and Cavendish to study swarming animals like worms, insects, and other vermin, the basic building materials of existence, and little people, some real, and some legendary (the pygmies of Plinian writings and the Green Children of Woolpit).
The course will focus on medieval texts, but will frequently range into early modern material, particularly in its final weeks.
ENGL 89500.  - Textual Issues: from Manuscript to Print in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Period. Mondays 4:15PM-6:15PM. 2/4 credits. Prof. Michael Sargent [28553]
In this course, we will explore the change in mentalit√© –– in attitudes toward textuality, textual variability, uniformity, and authority –– in the period from Chaucer to Shakespeare. At the beginning of this period, “publication” meant giving a book that you wrote personally or had someone copy out for you to other people so that they could make their own handwritten copies from it, with little or no control from you over what those copies might look like. At the end, “publication” meant that a printer got hold of a copy of your book, registered it in his own name in the Stationers’ Register, hired workers to set it up, and printed a number of (supposedly) identical copies, with the profit, in proper capitalist fashion, accruing to the owner of the means of production. And what had been known simply as “publication” in the age before print is now called “coterie publication”.
Critical and theoretical readings for this course will range from Ivan Illich and Bernard Cerquiglini through Elizabeth Eisenstein and William Kuskin to Jennifer Summit, David Greetham and Roger Chartier. Texts under consideration will include, e.g., Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Sarum rite and the Book of Common Prayer, the Golden Legend and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, as well as texts that course participants want to bring in as relevant case studies.
MUS 86100 -  Seminar in Music History: Reading Late Medieval Song [28896] M, 10:00am-1:00pm, Room 3491,  Prof. Anne Stone, 4 credits.
At some point in the later Middle Ages people stopped learning music exclusively through oral transmission and started learning it (sometimes) by reading musical notation. Obviously a change like this evolved unevenly over a long period in different social and institutional contexts, in tandem with developments in musical notation, and changes in musical literacy and musical practice. Written music was circulated first in religious contexts, recording Christian plainchant and polyphony, and was used only much later for secular song that circulated in courtly and literate subcultures of France and Italy. What is certain is that by the latter portion of the fourteenth century, there was a musically literate “reading public” for song and a repertory of songs designed to be learned from musical notation. Songs, in turn, began to be composed with their written iterations in mind.
This seminar will offer a view of late medieval song from inside its notation: we will begin by learning the black mensural notation used in the fourteenth century and then use that knowledge to investigate how composers exploited notation to make meaning in their songs. Some of the most spectacular examples of notation-driven songs are Guillaume de Machaut’s canonic Ma fin est mon commencement, whose presentation as upside-down, incomplete notation contributes to the reader’s understanding of its text; Baude Cordier’s Tout par compas, presented in a circular form, and Solage’s Fumeux fume, a dazzling display of chromaticism that pushes the limits of the pitch universe as it was then conceptualized. But many more less well known examples use musical notation in innovative and self-conscious ways to enhance the reading pleasure of their literate audiences, and the focus of the seminar will be to get to know these pieces by reading and interpreting them from their original notation. We will also read primary and secondary literature on medieval reading and court culture, on rhetoric and memory, and on the medieval book.

Seminar requirements include a short midterm paper focusing on the notation of one song, and a longer paper considering some aspect of late medieval lyric in its context.