MSCP 70100. Introduction to Medieval Studies. Mondays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 3307. 3 credits, Prof. Michael Sargent.
This course provides an introduction to a variety of materials, methods, disciplines, approaches and questions that you will encounter in studying (primarily) western European culture in the period spanning the ninth through fifteenth centuries CE. Depending on the background, training, strengths and interests of the students, we will focus particularly on textual issues in political and religious history, literature and literary transmission, mentalities, art and music. We will also pay attention to the modern and postmodern construction of the medieval through all of these areas of interest.
The following courses will fulfill program requirements:
ART 83000. Ornament. Mondays 11:45AM- 1:45PM, Room 3421, Prof. Jennifer Ball.
A historiographical approach to ornament examining various lenses though which ornament has been understood: nature (Ruskin), biology (Jones and Semper), linguistics (semper), and psychology (Grabar, Riegl, Gombrich) among others. Ornament will also be examined in terms of function (as frame, as field, as writing, and so on). We will also consider ideas that often align or coincide with ornament such as materialism, or spoliation. While Islamic, byzantine and western medieval art will be the primary examples used for this course, as it is a historiography of the subject, we will look across time and space. Accepts auditors- with interview.
ENGL 80700. Religious Differences in Medieval and Early Modern Literature. Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 3305, Prof. Steven Kruger.
In medieval and early modern England (and Europe more generally), religion operates in significant ways to shape individual and community identities. England officially expels its Jewish communities in 1290; in 1656, Parliament debated a proposal to readmit Jews (which was never officially adopted, although de facto Jewish communities began to reestablish themselves in this moment). Islam, throughout the long period from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, remains a strong ideological presence for Europeans, and confrontations between Christians and Muslims – in the period of the Crusades, at Nicopolis in 1396, at Constantinople in 1453, and in the long Ottoman-European struggle – often impinged in intensely real ways on lives in Western Europe (even when the crucial events in this confrontation remained at some considerable distance). Fractures within European Christianity, too – the Reformation, of course, but also earlier “heretical” and popular devotional movements – strongly shape medieval and early modern societies and cultures.
In this seminar we will look at a wide range of work that considers questions about religious difference, interreligious confrontation and cooperation. The texts read will range from the more canonical – Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale and Man of Law’s Tale, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta – to more obscure and often anonymous works: seventeenth-century pamphlets produced during the debate over Jewish readmission; early modern pamphlets identifying Native Americans with the ten lost tribes of Israel; plays about Christians “turning Turk”; pro-Christian polemic produced by Jews who had converted to Christianity; late-medieval drama in which religious difference is placed center-stage; romances of Christian-Muslim confrontation like The Sultan of Babylon. Alongside these primary texts, we will consider some historical materials that help place this literary-cultural work into perspective. We will also read some theoretical and critical writing that considers how religious identity operates: Is medieval and early modern religion parallel in certain ways to modern race? How is it shaped by and intertwined with questions about gender and sexuality? In a period when the idea of the modern nation is born, how important is religion to that formation?
Each student will present orally as part of the seminar structure, and each student taking the course for 4.0 credits will produce a research paper for the course. Students working in periods other than the medieval and early modern can develop projects in their own field related to the course theme. First-year students in the Ph.D. Program in English can use this project to produce one of the four components of the portfolio required for the Program’s first examination: 1) a 12-15-page review essay; 2) an annotated bibliography of 15 primary or secondary sources; 3) a syllabus with a 1500-word account of a pedagogical approach to a text; or 4) a 10-page conference paper. In addition to completing one of these portfolio projects, students will write a brief (1000-1500-word) essay reflecting on the ways in which this project might provide the basis for a longer, research essay.
CL 88100. Dante's Web: Charting Connections between the Commedia and his other Works. Wednesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 3310A, Prof. Paola Ureni.
This course will highlight the connections between Dante’s works, identifying and following thematic, philosophical, and lexical threads that link the Commedia, Convivio, Monarchia, De Vulgari Eloquentia, Vita Nuova, and Rime. Even though the consideration of the temporal sequence of Dante’s writings will be important, our readings will be organized according to thematic – rather than chronological – criteria. Scholars have often discussed the relations and reciprocal influences in Dante’s oeuvre, particularly, for instance, in the Commedia and the Convivio. On the basis of the philosophical and political dimension, studies and critical editions of the Monarchia have considered its relationship to the Convivio. More recently, for example, the political dimension has been highlighted as relevant to the linguistic theory of the De Vulgari Eloquentia. Besides investigating the connections discussed by Dante criticism, we will explore and identify references to structures of thought shared by the different aspects of medieval intellectual discussions, and mirroring Dante’s intellectual iter. This will allow for a study of the poet’s syncretic consideration of the political, philosophical, musical, and scientific discourses, as well as of the relationship between classical authors and material, and contemporary theological tenets.
MUS 86400. Musicology Seminar: Medievalism and the Modernist Musical Imagination. Fridays 10:00AM-1:00PM, Room 3491, Prof. Anne Stone.
The list of composers who have engaged in some way with medieval music reads like a who’s who of musical modernism in Europe and the United States: Benjamin, Berio, Birtwistle, Britten, Hindemith, Maxwell Davies, Messiaen, Pärt, Perle, Saariaho, Stravinsky, Tavener, Webern, and Wuorinen, just to name a few.
This seminar will explore the intersections between selected modernist composers and the specter of the Middle Ages. Is the relationship merely one of numerous isolated references, a collection of case studies, or is there a deeper affinity between the project of modernist music and the collective notion of the medieval? What do modernist composers think they are doing when they allude to medieval musical processes or literary themes? Is there a coherent "medievalism" discernible in modern music akin to that of neoclassicism or exoticism?
We will start by considering two recent operas that take troubadours as their subject: Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de loin (2000) and George Benjamin'sWritten on Skin (2012). Later topics will include Paul Hindemith’s direction of the Yale Collegium Musicum, George Perle’s analysis of Machaut, Luciano Berio’s collaboration with the medievalist Edoardo Sanguineti, and medieval-ish works by Peter Maxwell Davies and Harrison Birtwistle.
Requirements: weekly reading and written response, posted to Dropbox the Wednesday before each class; a short presentation and 5-page paper early in the semester; and a longer presentation and paper (15 pages) at the end; the longer paper may be an elaboration of the earlier paper, or on a different topic.
Readings will include two recent books from art history and English respectively: Alexander Nagel, Medieval Modern: Art out of Time (London: Thames and Hudson, 2012); Bruce Holsinger, The Premodern Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); other reading will include articles and essays by Walter Benjamin, Luciano Berio, Bertold Brecht, Umberto Eco, Paul Hindemith, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Ezra Pound, George Perle, and Kirsten Yri.
THEA 86000. Medieval Theatre & Performance. Thursdays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room 3310B, Prof. Erika Lin.
This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to theatre and performance in England and Europe from the Byzantine era through the mid-1500s, with special emphasis on the later centuries. Combining dramatic analysis with varied historical and theoretical methods, we will examine a range of theatrical genres, including biblical plays, morality drama, saints’ plays, interludes, and farces. Because scripted drama was only one of many ways that performance permeated medieval culture, we will consider theatre’s extensive links with other social practices, such as music, dancing, sports, festivity, civic pageantry, royal ceremony, devotional ritual, and judicial punishment, and we will draw connections with broader cultural discourses on topics such as gender, class, religion, marriage, witchcraft, and politics. Throughout our investigations, we will pay particular attention to popular beliefs about—and experiences of—spectacle, audience, identity, and social formations. Beyond a historicist focus, the course also has three more theoretical aims: (1) to consider how the study of pre-modern theatre can enrich the field of performance studies, which has been shaped largely by contemporary concerns; (2) to develop new critical tools through analysis of unfamiliar earlier periods, which offer alternative epistemologies; and (3) to address self-reflexive questions about methodology, materiality, gaps in evidence, and the stakes of research on ephemeral phenomena. Primary readings will include both plays and other extant texts related to performance, such as property lists, ballads, household records, and parish accounts. We may also consider some visual evidence. Non-English sources will be provided in translation; all archival documents will be transcribed (no experience with paleography required). Secondary readings will be drawn from a variety of fields, including not only theatre studies, cultural history, and literature, but also history of science, musicology, dance studies, architecture, art history, and religious studies.
Evaluation: active class participation, short weekly response papers, possible brief in-class presentation, research proposal with annotated bibliography, and a final paper.