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Spring 2021





ART 83000: Charting New (and Old) Territory: Mapping in the Middle Ages, GC: Weds. 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Jennifer Ball  

Maps were used by Medievals not only to document known places but also to lay claim to reli-gious and cultural histories. As the over ten-foot Armenian map known as the Tabula Choro-graphic Armenica, which covers all known sites connected to Armenia and its diaspora, attests, maps document how groups identified themselves and others, more than they charted topo-graphical features and borders.  Maps could be aspirational, as Matthew Paris' famous map of the Christian Holy Land, which he made without ever leaving his monastic cell in England. Me-dieval Christians drew their known world (mappa mundi) and included its unexplored edges, typ-ically labeled with phrases like “Here be dragons,” which seems inaccurate and amusing to mod-erns.  But the relationship between mapping and travel was complex, serving other uses, such as the reconstruction of memories or a virtual pilgrimage.   While this seminar will primarily study maps of the Medieval Mediterranean, we will utilize cartographic theoretical approaches across periods looking at works by James Ackerman, Christian Jacob, and Matthew Edney among many others. Some time will be devoted to using mapping software and web tools for one's own re-search. 


CLAS 82900: The World of Late Antiquity, Fordham: Mon. 4:15pm-6:15pm, 3 credits, Professor Cristiana Sogno 

This course offers an introduction to the history, art and culture of the Late Antique world from the third to the sixth century. We will explore the older narratives of decline in this period alongside powerful alternatives proposed by scholars more recently, drawing on both primary sources and monuments and critically examining the secondary literature that studies them. 

CLAS 74100: Archaeologies of Greek Landscape, NYU: Thurs. 12:30pm-2:30pm, 3 credits, Professor Joan Connelly 

This course investigates the archaeologies of the Athenian Acropolis through its transformations from early settlement, to Mycenaean citadel, to sacred precinct of Athena, to Late Antique town with Parthenon as Church of the Virgin Mary, to administrative center of Latin Duchy of Athens with Parthenon as the Cathedral Notre Dame D’Athènes, to Ottoman garrison with Parthenon as mosque and Erechtheion as Governor’s harem, to world famous ruin, to archaeological site, to iconic epicenter Western Art and Culture. 

We will examine the geology, landscape, archaeoastronomy, topography, and topology of the Athenian Acropolis with an eye toward understanding the interrelation of landscape, myth, cult, and ritual. Topics include: the architectural phases of the Acropolis buildings and monuments, their programs of sculptural decoration, their relationships to one another, the foundation myths that lie behind their meanings, and the cult rituals celebrated within the sacred precinct.  Issues of reception, projection, and appropriation will be examined as will the history of the conservation and reconstruction of Acropolis buildings. Longstanding efforts to secure the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures will be reviewed within the broader context of global cultural heritage law and the opening of the New Acropolis Museum 


CLAS 75200: Latin Sight Translation, GC: Mon, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 1 credit, Professor Jennifer Roberts 

Learning goals: Students will be able to translate a Latin passage at sight at a level appropriate for accomplished MA and/or PhD students; students will pass the MA or PhD examinations in Latin translation at the first attempt. 

Assessment: student performance in class; the MA or PhD examination in Latin translation. 


CL 80900- Moral Combat: Women, Gender, and War in Italian Renaissance Literature, GC: Thurs, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 2-4 credits, Professor Gerry Milligan 
The Renaissance was a time of significant political and social unrest. These disorders are reflected in the writings of the period’s major authors, who often coded these struggles in gendered terms. The objectives of this course are to familiarize ourselves with these works, and in particular with the lively debate that questioned women’s ability to fight in wars, especially in the Italian sixteenth century; to sharpen our skills as readers of works that feature heroic female warriors and so-called “effeminate” male knights; and to explore and perhaps demystify the universal gendering of war. The course will consider Classical and Renaissance philosophical literature, epic poems penned by men and women, as well as short biographies of women in combat. Authors to be studied will include, Plato, Aristotle, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Tasso, Fonte, Shakespeare, and Marinella.  All texts are available in English translation. 

ENGL 80700. Medieval Affect, Feeling, and Emotion, GC: Thurs, 4:15pm-6:15pm. 2/4 credits, Professor Glenn Burger 

This course will consider various theoretical frameworks—both contemporary and medieval—useful in discussing the production and management of affect and emotion.  It could be said that the Middle Ages invented affective devotion, and the course will begin by focusing on medieval emotional relationships with texts, devotional objects and religious drama concerned with Christ’s passion: for example, “The Wooing of Our Lord,” Richard Rolle’s Meditation, Nicholas Love’s Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ, and lyric laments of The Virgin.  We will track the ways that affect in courtly love poetry provided medieval readers with intimate scripts to put inner and outer states of feeling into contact with one another, particularly as the individual perceives herself in relation to (private) desires and (public) pressures.  We will examine such texts as Guillaume de Lorris’s Romance of the Rose, Machaut’s Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse, Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, and John Lydgate’s Complaynt of the Loveres Lyfe.  We will also examine the crucial role that affect management played in late medieval conduct literature, and we will consider how the production of self-restraint in such texts, particularly within the structures of the married household, helps form emotional communities that allowed emergent social groups new modes of self-identification.  We will examine conduct texts such as The Good Wife’s Guide (Le Menagier de Paris) and The Book of the Knight of La Tour Landry, as well as literary texts such as Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women and The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale, as well as Thomas Hoccleve’s Series, and Boccaccio’s, Petrarch’s, and Chaucer’s versions of the Griselda story.    

Each student will be required to deliver an oral presentation and produce a 15-20 page seminar paper. In lieu of the final seminar paper, students in the first year of the PhD program may produce an annotated bibliography of 15 primary and secondary sources and an 8-10 page conference paper  


ENGL 80600. Reason, Freedom, and Animality, GC: Mon, 11:45am-1:45pm, 2/4 credits, Professor Karl Steel 

Humans, as Porphyry influentially defined us long ago, are “the rational mortal animal”: an animal, because a living thing; mortal, because we are not gods; and rational, because we – alone among mortal things – have reason. Or so holds a standard taxonomy, which separates humans from a homogeneously irrational mass of dogs, horses, crows, oysters, apes, and so on. The claim to having reason is also the claim to have free will: to be morally responsible, to be a legal subject, to be a citizen, and to have ownership over oneself and one’s actions. And the corollary claim that other things lack reason offers them up to supposedly rational subjects as objects, as property, as chattel, as things to be cultivated, perhaps, but never really to be cared for.  

“Reason, Freedom, and Animality” will lean on the question of humans as the rational form of life, examining texts ranging from ancient Greeks to (at least) the early modern period, lingering mostly in the Middle Ages, but always with engagement with later 20th and 21st century philosophical texts. We will explore how the claims to the possession of reason and freedom underlay debates about enslavement, gender hierarchies, racialization, and other ways of denying certain human populations resources and exposing them to premature death. Dominant humans tend to judge subordinated groups as wanting in reason, and therefore as more animal than human, which opens them up to being treated, as the common phrase goes, ‘like animals’: at best, as a dependent form of life, and, at worst, as a life made to be used by others, with all this implies in terms of exposure to captivity and abuse, so that being treated “like an animal” means nearly the opposite of being treated “like a living thing.  

Because the question of the possession of reason accompanies the claim to freedom, we will also explore critical habits of praising freedom where it can be found. How does the hunt for “agency” or the praise of categorical strain, instability and openness encode an at least vaguely supersessionary logic, that accords to some favored objects and groups the liberation from the law that “grace” provides? How do our critical habits participate in a language of freedom inherited from, among other places, the Christian scriptures?  

The ideal set of primary texts is still being assembled. Course organization will be roughly chronological, looking first at questions of freedom, reason, and logos in some foundational philosophical and political documents, then moving into medieval narrative and theology, and concluding with some skeptical work, perhaps by Margaret Cavendish. Theoretical readings will be some classics in posthumanism, critical animal theory, feminist care ethics, and disability theory, with generous reference to more recent work, like Zakiyyah Iman Jackson’s Becoming Human: Matter and Meaning in an Antiblack World. I will aim to connect course themes to the participants’ individual research interests. Each student will be responsible for a weekly presentation; you will also write a book review; and, in the end, produce a seminar paper, or a conference paper with very thorough notes. We will conclude the class with a mini conference. 


FREN 77400: Women’s Stories in Premodern French, Tues, 4:15pm-6:15pm. 2 or 4 credits. Sara McDougall. (Taught in English)              

In the premodern era, French language and culture spread far and wide beyond the borders of "l'hexagone". This course will explore French stories told to, for, about, and by women between 1100 and 1700. These texts document the words and deeds of both real and imagined women, famous and infamous, and also women who history has forgotten. Our sources will include romances, poetry, plays, letters, trial records, medical and legal treatises, conduct literature, and illuminated manuscripts (the premodern version of the graphic novel). We will work from translations as well as the original, according to and accommodating the skillsets and interests of each student. Knowledge of French helpful but not in the least essential. 


HIST 70800: Monarchy and Empire in Byzantium, Mon, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Eric Ivison 

In the eyes of his subjects, the East Roman or Byzantine emperor stood at the pinnacle of earthly society and occupied a central place in the ideology and mission of the imperial state. The emperor was always more than just head of state, commander-in-chief, and supreme judge. In the tradition of the ancient kings of Israel, the emperor was styled as God’s vice-regent on Earth, a new King David and King Solomon, who was the supreme Christian king, a sacred monarch hailed as a living icon of Christ, the defender of the Christian Church and the Orthodox faith, and the heir to the Roman traditions of universal empire dating back to Augustus and Constantine. This course explores the imperial office, the imperial monarchy, and concepts of imperialism and empire in Byzantium through a wide range of primary sources and secondary studies, from the 4th to the 15th century CE. Topics include a survey of major periods in the development of the imperial office and concepts of empire through time, and topics that cover aspects of imperial ideology, palatine archaeology, imperial ceremony and regalia, the imperial image in art and literature, and the imperial capital of Constantinople. By examining the central figure of the emperor, the imperial court, and the ideology of the state, this course will offer insights on the nature of Byzantine civilization, Byzantine concepts of self-identity and world order, Byzantine perceptions of their empire’s role in the world, and perspectives on the Empire’s relationship vis-a-vis foreign peoples and states. As widely recognized and emulated expressions of power and legitimacy, Byzantine traditions of monarchy and empire were highly influential in medieval Europe and the Middle East, where royal courts imitated Byzantine imperial style and adapted its imperial ideology and trappings to their own purposes. Byzantine traditions of monarchy therefore occupy a central place in the development of kingship in the medieval world, and bequeathed an ideological legacy that helped shape European traditions of Christian monarchy and empire up to modern times.  This course is conceived as an introduction to the historiography and sources and does not require prior knowledge, or proficiency in Byzantine Greek or Latin. All primary sources are in English translation. Class meetings follow a seminar format combining short orientation lectures, discussions of the readings, Powerpoint presentations, and student presentations. Each week the class will discuss a topic, reading from scholarly monographs and articles, as well as some translations of primary sources. Readings are often multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary, combining historiography, studies of literature, ceremonial and performance, art history, archaeology, and other cultural studies. Course requirements include two written papers and student presentations and abstracts on individual readings that illuminate important aspects of topics under discussion. 

This course will be of interest to students in History, Classics, Medieval Studies, Art History, Anthropology and Archaeology, MALS, MES, and other related programs. 

Given the continuing COVID-19 Pandemic crisis the instructor anticipates that this course will be taught synchronously, via Zoom, online. 

Almost all course readings will be available digitally through the class Blackboard page, internet electronic resources, Mina Rees Library electronic databases, inter-library loan, and possibly e-book reserves, if available.