Upcoming Courses

View current and past semester courses below.

The most up-to-date courses are also available on the CUNY website:

Dynamic Course Schedule

Fall 2022

Placed by many medieval maps at the center of the word, Jerusalem is a city triply sacred: to Jews as the capital of the kingdom of Judah and the location of the Temple until its destruction in 70 CE; to Christians as the city in which Jesus instituted the Eucharist, suffered, and was buried; and to Muslims as the site of the “farthest place of prayer,” al masjid al aqsa, visited by Mohammed on his night journey. Throughout the holy city and its environs, sites were marked with monuments to their spiritual significance that were in turn remodeled and re-interpreted over the centuries. The figural arts—painting, sculpture, textiles, metalwork, and the arts of the book—similarly played a role in configuring and reconfiguring this landscape of holiness. Jerusalem presents a remarkable series of case studies on the integration and diffusion of artistic and architectural models, the changing discourses around key monuments, the role of pilgrimage and relics, and interreligious competition through artistic patronage. Covering the period from the reign of Constantine (312–337) to the city’s conquest by the Ottomans (1516), the course will consider both the artistic production of Jerusalem itself and arts intended to reproduce the holiness of Jerusalem elsewhere.  

CL 85500: Middle Eastern Explorers: Time, Space and Travel Literature, Thurs, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 3 credits. Anna Akasoy. Cross listed with MES 78500. 

CL 89000: On Passions, Emotions, Affects: in Theory, History, Texts. Tues, 4:15pm-6:15pm. 2,4 credits. Domna Stanton. Cross listed with FREN 87000. 

ENGL 82100: Queering the Renaissance, 2022. Mondays 11:45 AM - 1:45 PM. 2/3/4 Credits. Mario DiGangi.  

ENGL 80700: Arthurian Traditions. Wed, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM. 2/3/4 Credits. Steven Kruger.  

SPAN  87000: The Power of Words and The Words of Power. Mon, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Prof. José Miguel Martínez Torrejón 

Past courses

MSCP 80500: Dante's Purgatorio,  Wed, 4:15 PM-6:15 PM. 3 credits, Paola Ureni.  Cross-listed with CL 88100.

This course intends to read Dante’s Purgatorio in relation to medieval intellectual debates, and with constant reference to the Inferno and anticipation of the Paradiso. The intermediate condition expressed by the second canticle involves both formal and content levels, and will be investigated according to both. The Purgatorio’s significance of rebirth and freedom from Inferno’s hopeless sinful state mirrors a sense of recovered harmony, which involves individual and non-individual dimensions, as it encompasses theological, cosmological, philosophical, and scientific discussions on different forms of harmony and balance. We will consider the intersections among these different fields of medieval knowledge. Through the study of Dante’s conception of poetic creation in the Purgatorio, we will highlight how thirteenth-century Italian poetry shares its roots and its creative moment – as well as a lexicon – with scientific investigations and philosophical discussions that range from the Aristotelian tradition to the Augustinian trend. The inclusion of a scientific approach to Dante’s text, far from lessening theological and philosophical dimensions, will allow investigating them through a particular lens. Through our reading of the Purgatorio we will explore the impact of science – even, more specifically, of medicine – on philosophical and theological debates, as well as the literary response to such discussion. Following a scientific thread intertwined with philosophy and theology, we will identify more specific themes, such as synderesis and free will, and we will investigate the role of faculties such as imagination and memory. We will explore the intersection between medicine and theology through the reading of physical and mental conditions during natural sleep, dreaming, somnolentia, as well as states of mind assimilable to different degrees of astonishments or even ecstatic states, which mark the pilgrim’s ascent of the mountain of Purgatory. Finally, besides the necessary allusions to the other two canticle of the poem, our reading of the Purgatorio will include references to other Dantean works such as the Convivio and the Vita Nova.


HIST 74300: Gendered Justice in Europe and the Americas c.1350- 1750, Wed, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM. 3 credits, Sara McDougall.  

The course will explore the role of gender in the prosecution and punishment of crime in social and cultural context in Europe and the Americas c.1350-1750. We will examine gender and justice as it intersected with race, religion, and status, as found in the Atlantic World, and particularly the French and Iberian metropoles and colonies. Our main body of evidence will be trial records, including litigation, witness testimony, confessions, and sentences. In addition we will engage with a range of other source materials such as law codes, prison records and the writings of incarcerated persons, newspaper reports, true crime narratives, and images of alleged criminals and crime. Training in these subjects welcome but not a requirement, this will be an interdisciplinary inquiry open to graduate and professional students in the humanities and social sciences and related fields. 


MSCP 70100: Introduction to Medieval Studies: Medieval Culture. Mon, 4:15PM-6:15PM. 3 credits, Nicole Lopez-Jantzen.   

This course provides an introduction to medieval culture and society, from the fifth to the fourteenth centuries, as well as an introduction to the discipline of Medieval Studies. The course will be interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on approaches from history, literature, art history, and gender studies to explore both scholarly analysis and also the material and textual sources of medieval Europe. We will focus on how scholars have defined the Middle Ages, both temporally and geographically, major people and events in the Middle Ages, as well as emerging fields in medieval studies, such as the study of race. Topics include the end of antiquity, conquest and colonization, and the interaction of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle Ages.


CL 89100: History of Literary Theory & Criticism I, GC, Wednesdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 4 credits,  Monica Calabritto. Room 3306. In person. 

With readings from Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus to Dante, Sidney, Boileau, Dryden, and Lessing, this course will examine the history and evolution of literary theory in the classical, medieval, and early modern periods. It will also examine such fundamental terms as truth, beauty, nature, and artifact with which pre-Romantic Western critics have attempted to understand literary works of art. This course will also explore the legacy and limitations of these and other terms and their impact on criticism today. 

CL 80100: The Qur’an: Literary Perspectives, GC, Thursdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 2/4 credits, Anna Akasoy. Online.   

As the scope of Comparative Literature departments is being diversified and globalized, the Qur’an is frequently included as a canonical text of world literature. There is no doubt that the Qur’an is a text of great, even singular importance in the Islamic tradition, but what does it mean to treat the Qur’an in the context of literature, especially comparative literature? Is a text which is considered inimitable in the Islamic tradition also incomparable? 

This course aims at bridging the gap between two different fields, one the study of the Qur’an in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, the other the study of literature. The course will provide students with an introduction to perspectives on the Qur’an in recent scholarship, but we will be primarily exploring the Qur’an and its literary dimensions in conversation with select examples of Middle Eastern, European and world literature. 

The course will focus on three topics: 

Prophecy as a mode of literary production. We will be discussing theories of prophecy in medieval Islamic philosophy and for comparative purposes material from the Arabian Nights as well as Mario Vargas Llosa’s The War at the End of the World. 

The Qur’an and poetry. The Qur’an itself states that Muhammad was not a poet, but his historical milieu was very much defined as a literary space in which poetry loomed large. In addition to samples of pre-Islamic and classical Arabic poetry, we will be exploring Rumi’s Masnavi, a key text of Sufism which is sometimes referred to as the Qur’an in Persian. We will also be discussing western European responses to Middle Eastern poetry (e.g., Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan). 

The Qur’an and storytelling. This section will focus mostly on stories of prophets, notably Joseph. We will be discussing other forms of storytelling in medieval Islamic literature (the ‘stories of the prophets’) as well as Biblical storytelling and examples from modern Middle Eastern (e.g., Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz) and European literature (e.g., Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers). 

This course does not require any previous knowledge of the Qur’an, Arabic literature or Islamic history. 

CL 80100/FREN 70500: Writing the Self: From Augustine to Covidity, GC, Tuesdays, 4:15pm- 6:15pm, 2/4 credits, Domna Stanton. Room 4419. In person.  

How is the self written, constructed? What forms and shapes does this writing take over time, in different genres? what purposes does it serve, what work does it accomplish for the several selves inscribed in the text and for others (including the self) who will read it? This course will begin by tracing self-writing from the Middle Ages to today, in theoretical texts (Derrida, Butler, Lacan, Lejeune), and primary works, beginning with confession (St Augustine, Rousseau); then early-modern discursive forms of interiority (Gentileschi, Sévigné) that steadily enlarge both the scope of self writing and the figures of the self. We will consider the centuries that women's autogynography and the self-writing of persons of color and other others took to be recognized -- from Kempe, Heloise and Pisan to slave narratives (Equiano, Jacobs, Douglass), and letters, diaries and journals (Woolf, Nin, de Beauvoir). Our readings will culminate with the proliferation of forms in the 20th- and 21st century: from autofiction (Colette, Stein, Eggers) and pictorial modes (Leonard, Bourgeois, Abramovic); Holocaust memorials, trauma narratives (Frank, Levi, Agamben) and testimonials (Manchu); to AIDS memoirs (Arenas, Guibert), the matter of black lives (Cullors, Kendi and Blain), and the global pandemic that engender terror and dying along with possible transformation and rebirth. Finally, given the untraceable lines between the ‘real’ and ‘the fictive,’ we will end by debating whether all writing is self-writing.   

ENGL 70500.  Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales,  GC, Thursdays 11:45AM – 1:45PM.  2/4 Credits, Steven Kruger.  Room 3306.  In Person. 

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales remains a compelling work even more than six centuries after its composition. Presenting a fictional pilgrimage that functions simultaneously as religious devotion and secular entertainment, it sets up a frame into which Chaucer writes an extraordinarily wide range of stories: stories both poetic and prosaic; bawdy and religious; taking on grand themes of empire at one moment and then the petty rivalries of a small town at the next. We will learn to read this complex text in its original Middle English form (and in doing so, we’ll learn a lot about the history of English as a literary and spoken language). We’ll also consider what the poem might teach us about medieval (and specifically fourteenth-century) culture and history, highlighting ways in which modern constructions—of nations, race, religion, gender, sexuality, individual subjectivity—differ from their medieval predecessors. But we’ll also consider how and why Chaucer’s work has remained of deep interest across a long history and how it might speak to us in the twenty-first century. What does it mean to encounter a world that is so different from our own, and yet, of course, still “the same” world? What can we learn from this encounter with difference that might allow us to think about ourselves—our culture, our politics, our identities, our relationship to the earth—in new ways? And might this encounter, even, be productive for a creative movement into the future that, while not replicating anything like the medieval past, nonetheless remains cognizant of how that past, with its violences and its beauties, might help us chart human and earth-bound futures that are less violent and more beautiful?   

Though the text of The Canterbury Tales will form the core of our course reading, we will also intensively explore those theoretical and critical approaches that have most significantly shaped readings of Chaucer across the past decade. These include critical race theory and postcolonial theory (with particular attention to Chaucer’s representation of Islam, Asia, North Africa, and Judaism); feminist, gender, and queer theory, including especially trans approaches (with attention to Chaucer’s writing “as a woman,” to characters we might think of as genderqueer, and to Chaucer’s own implication in rape culture); historicizing readings that emphasize politics, class formations, and material culture; the history of the book and manuscript studies; disability theory; and ecocritical and environmental approaches, including animal studies.   

Students will give oral presentations as part of the seminar structure of the course. Students taking the course for 3 or 4 credits will develop an independent research project; this can be focused on Chaucer and the Middle Ages, but it also can take up material from other periods (as long as that material bears some connection to the kinds of question at the center of the seminar). First-year students in the English Program will have the option of working on one element of the portfolio examination for their project. Students taking the course for 2 credits will be expected to do all the work of the course except for the larger final project.  

HIST 72500: Race and the Middle East/North Africa, GC, Thursdays 2:00pm – 4:00pm,  3 credits, Professors Kristina Richardson and Mandana Limbert. Room 3309. In person. 

This seminar explores how notions of race (jins or `unsur and similar terms in Turkish, Persian, and other Middle Eastern languages) have been examined, experienced, and deployed in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In particular, and in dialogue with scholarship on the United States, the Americas, and the Atlantic, the course addresses practices, policies, and beliefs of hierarchy and power, “blood,” biology, and marriage, appearance and regulation, exclusion and inclusion. Rather than presuming either the stability of the notion of “race” or its “irrelevance” (as it is often argued) for the MENA region, this seminar highlights the specific, differing, and changing ways that race has been understood, used, and reproduced in the Middle East and North Africa; among Middle Easterners and North Africans in Sub-Saharan Africa; in confrontations and conversations with Europeans; and among diaspora populations in the United States. 

HIST 72600: Comparing Pandemics, GC, Wednesdays 2:00pm – 4:00pm,  3 credits, Professor John Torpey.  Room 6114. In person. 

This course examines epidemic diseases and their social consequences across historical time and geographic space.  We will focus primarily on the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century, smallpox and its role in the conquest of the Americas, the “Spanish” flu pandemic of 1918-1919, and the coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021(?).  We will seek to understand how different societies were affected by these plagues, how they responded to them, and the consequences of these public health and social crises for the societies in question. 


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. 

MSCP 80500. Migrations, Displacement, and Slavery in a Global Medieval Perspective. Wednesdays, 4:15PM-6:15PM, Room TBA, 4 credits, Francesca Sautman.

What is known as the “medieval period” is largely thought of as a Western European temporality. It did not, however, exist in isolation from or without consequences for other peoples, cultures and polities located even far beyond its confines. There were vast population movements across Asia, Europe and North Africa throughout the early “medieval” period into early modern times that impacted and informed each other in many ways. These transnational or transcultural connections, as well as simultaneously occurring foundational events across regions, are what contemporary approaches to a “global history” seek to grasp and decipher, rather than narrowly defined histories based on current nation-states.

This course proposes such a global outlook focused on how medieval populations, communities, and individuals migrated from a place of origin to one they adopted or occupied, or to which they were forcibly displaced, whether by war, economics, or political strategies. A frequent result of these forcible displacements was the enslavement of large numbers of people based on their religion or ethnicity, a practice that remained very prevalent throughout the Middle Ages.

In the first half of the course, we consider some primary examples of massive displacements. These include: the early movements of populations across the European continent (the so-called “Barbarian invasions”) following the fall of the Roman Empire; the long-lasting effects of the Norman expansion since 1066, not only in England, but the Norman rule in Sicily over a mixed Arab and Sicilian population that was both culturally rich and fraught with conflicts; the far-reaching  changes in population distribution, cultural habits and political systems brought by the rise and consolidation of the Mongol empire and its conquests westward; and the effects of discrimination culminating in the expulsion of Jewish communities in Northwestern Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the end 15th-century expulsion of both Jews and Muslims from Iberia.

In the second half, we study the many forms taken by the enslavement of people from the early Middle Ages to the eve of the early modern period: the move from ancient forms of slavery towards the system of serfdom; practices of enslavement in the Mediterranean and Balkans and their relationship to servitude;  enslavement for the exploitation of sugar plantations in 15th -century  Europe that honed systems of enslavement soon to be imported to the Americas; and the beginnings of the transatlantic trade with the early Portuguese incursions into West Africa.

As illustrative of the various themes of the course studied together, we will also examine several case studies focused on individuals (the journey of Leo Africanus born al Hasan ibn Muhammad al Wazzan al Fasi ); on the entanglements of religion, ethnic belonging and local political power with enslavement-- in Aragon and Castile between the 13th and 15th centuries; on a community, with the massive migration of a people retaining its language of origin and creating a cultural fusion still extant today (the Arbëreshë  of Southern Italy originating in 14th and 15th- century Albania).

Given the limits of a semester and this global perspective, we cannot examine each segment of the course at great length, but students are encouraged to create a term project dedicated to a specific area, region, population or issue that will encompass all their work for the semester on one topic, especially if they are taking the course for 3 or 4 credits.  They are also encouraged to use sources in languages other than English as appropriate to their research topic. If interested in the course, please contact instructor for further information and for initial lists of readings before the summer (fsautman@gc.cuny.edu).


CL 88000: Italy’s Dialect Through Time, Space and Society, GC; Wed, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Room TBA, 2 credits,  Hermann Haller. 

ENGL 80700: Racial, Religious, and Sexual Queerness in Medieval Literature, GC: Thur, 11:45AM – 1:45PM. 2/4 Credits.  Steven Kruger. 

HIST  78110: Violence in Islamic History, GC: Wed, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM.  3 credits. Anna Akasoy. 
SPAN 70100: Spanish as a Historical Problem, GC: Tues, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 3 credits.  
José del Valle. 
THEA 86000: Festive and Ritual Performance, GC: Tues, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. 3 credits. 
Erika Lin.

MSCP 80500: Dante's InfernoGC: Wed, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Paola Ureni. Cross-listed with Comparative Literature. 

This course will read Dante’s Inferno in its entirety, and address the first canticle within the frame of the whole poem. Besides considering the relation to the purgatorial and paradisiacal dimensions, we will investigate the Infernoin connection to other works by Dante, such as the Convivioand the Vita Nuova. The course will highlight the interdisciplinary aspect of Dante’s poetry, through the consideration of different contexts, which frame – or reframe – the poet’s work. We will read the ethical failure of the infernal characters in relation to broader contemporary intellectual debates; we will explore concepts such as the idea of balance and the correspondence among philosophical, linguistic, scientific – even medical – forms of harmony, whose lack we will relate to the concept of sin in Dante. We will investigate the interrelations among different fields of knowledge – such as theology, philosophy, political thought, ethics, and science – and we will explore how they exemplify the medieval discussion about human nature. Through the attention to both content and language – more specifically identifying significant lexical threads – we will read the poet’s syncretic consideration of the relationship between classical authors and material, and contemporary theological tenets.  


French 71000: Espaces, lieux, identités, exclusions, 12e-16e siècles, Wed, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Professor Francesca Canadè Sautman

This course, taught in French, focuses on the question of “spaces, places, identities and exclusions” from the French central Middle Ages to the late 16th century. Students from all programs are most welcome but must be able to do most (not all) of their readings in French and follow class presentations and discussions in French. They may, however, do all their work (including oral presentations and interventions in class conversations) in English.

The course explores how communities and individuals articulated notions of space and identity in texts while addressing the tensions of socio-political contexts and other frames of experience, such as gender. Consciousness of the self was implied in historically defined identities based for instance on religion, but also in relationships to theoretical notions of space and to specific places (neighborhoods, cities, regions—or gardens, forests, and waterways). The writings of the ceramicist and self-taught savant Bernard Palissy, a committed Protestant persecuted for his religious beliefs, treat nature as an animate being endowed with agency, and resisting the assaults perpetrated by human exploitation. Yet, awareness of spaces and places, marked by individual story or collective history and tied to identity integrations or exclusions, took shape in a meandering course, itself worthy of study, since the Middle Ages.

The course examines this process and some of its most salient moments through a dozen literary, polemical, or didactic texts :  Chrétien de Troyes ( ?1130-1194), Perceval ou le conte du Graal ; Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200-c. 1240), Roman de la Rose 1, introduction ; Adam de la Halle, Le Jeu de la Feuillée (entre 1285 et 1288) ; Christine de Pizan (1364-c. 1430) Le Livre de la Mutacion de Fortune (sections) ; François Villon (1431-c. 1463), Le Testament ; Clément Marot (1496-1544), L’ Enfer ; Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549) Miroir de l’âme pècheresse ; Bernard Palissy (1510-c. 1590) Recepte véritable par laquelle tous les hommes de la France pourront apprendre à multiplier et augmenter leurs thrésors; Guillaume Postel (1510-1581) L’Histoire mémorable des expéditions depuys le deluge faictes par les Gauloys ;  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Journal de Voyage, (sections) and essays « De l’Exercitation » and « Des Cannibales »; Agrippa d’Aubigné (1552-1630), sections of Book  I of Les Tragiques. Topics range from the garden’s codification of the social order through allegory in Guillaume de Lorris’s Romance of the Rose, how the innovative play the Jeu de la Feuillée combines the medieval poetic congé with multiple forms of social alterity; how the 15th-century poet Villon expresses urban space and marginal identities; to Marguerite of Navarre’s exploration of the violence of interior spaces and affective links to a perception of hostile nature.

We read critical texts from current scholarship in medieval and early modern studies on ecocriticism, nation-building and early colonialism, and on the inception of a consciousness of the self; other modern theoretical and philosophical texts include works by Jane Bennett,  Patrick Boucheron,  George Didi-Huberman, Michel de Certeau, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and  Emmanuel Levinas.

Required work for students in 4 credit courses: readings; mid-semester paper; one oral presentation; a substantial research paper; in-class and electronic participation through Blackboard. 2-credit courses: one short midterm paper, one oral preparation OR a second short paper. Students in a 3-credit system : as for 4 credits, but 10-15-pages only for the final paper, and optional participation in online blog.
Please look for a pre-syllabus (course work details, class meeting topics and main readings, some bibliographical tools) by the end of the Fall semester on Blackboard or contact me for details (fsautman@gc.cuny.edu). See full description in French on French doctoral program website. https://gc.cuny.edu/Page-Elements/Academics-Research-Centers-Initiatives/Doctoral-Programs/French/Courses

MSCP 70100.  Introduction to Medieval Studies.  Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM, Room TBA, 3 credits, Karl Steel.

This course provides a introduction to (primarily) western European cultures from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries. The course will be interdisciplinary in its material and methods, drawing primarily on literature from a variety of languages, but also engaging with art history and history more generally, as well as a range of critical theoretical approaches, including gender theory and critical animal theory. With the guiding idea of engaging Middle Ages as an Age of Reason, the course will focus on literature (especially allegory), philosophy, doctrine (and heresy), medicine and science, law, and the question of being human.


ART 72000. Topics in Ancient Art and Architecture: Art, Materials, and Mobility in the Ancient Mediterranean. Thur, 11:45AM-1:45PM, 3 credits, Rachel Kousser.

CL 89100. History of Literary Theory & Criticism I. Wed, 4:15-6:15pm, 4 credits, Paola Ureni.

CL 80100/FRE 70500. Writing the Self. Tues, 4:15pm-6:15pm, Domna Stanton. The CL section of this course is 2,4 credits.

ENGL 80700.  Books of Marvels and Travels: The Middle Ages and Beyond. Tues, 4:15PM - 6:15PM, 2/4 credits, Steven Kruger.

HIST 72200. Mothers in Law. Mon, 11:45am-1:45pm, 3 credits, Profs. Sara McDougall and Julie Suk.