The Middle Ages: Introduction & Sampler
MWF 1:25-2:15 pm
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not the paper version. It is updated periodically.
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Prof. Hyams: MG 307 -- Tel. 257-3168; Net-ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursdays, 3-40 pm, Fridays 2:30-3:30 pm, and by appointment.
KOENIGSBERGER Medieval Europe, 400-1500
LOPEZ Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages
HAMILTON Religion in the Medieval West
BOUCHARD Life & Society in the West
GIES Cathedral, Forge & Waterwheel
Either ROBB, A Gift of Sanctuary or BAER, Down the Common or FOLLETT, Pillars of the Earth
PETERS Europe and the Middle Ages
STOKSTAD Medieval Art
All of the above are on sale at The Cornell Store but may also be obtained elsewhere. Along with other useful materials, these titles have been placed on Reserve in Uris Library.
This course is a single-semester alternative to HISTORY 263-4. It is targeted at the intelligent student seeking an accelerated entrance to the formative period of Western Civilization during the Middle Ages. It therefore aims to convey what was significant in that area of the "West" that was to become Europe, between the end of the Roman Empire in the West and the Renaissance, say from 395 to 1450 or so, and what remains of real interest today. Students may expect to gain from the course a basic knowledge of the events and institutions of Medieval Christendom.
The course's real goal is, however, much more ambitious: to introduce the modern observer to some of the choicer aspects of the medieval world, those judged most likely to intrigue, delight and satisfy. You may usefully think of it, if you like, as a Medieval Sampler. To put it more pretentiously, the course resembles a classic French Hors d'oeuvre, in that it presents for the discriminating palate a series of samples from some of the very best dishes known to the chef. Among these dishes figure Beliefs, Gender and Power Relations, Economics (Greed and Subsistence), Arts and Entertainments (Architecture, Food, Literature, Music, Painting), even some Deviance and Protest.
Assignments will be as interactive as possible, and will include Playreadings, videos, music, a cooking demonstration, a demonstration of medieval weaponry, and commentary on objects as well as texts from the period. The student will end the semester knowing how to advance his or her knowledge of the area both from Cornell campus resources (libraries etc.) and through the ever-increasing riches of the Internet. Both in the teaching and the grades, the emphasis will be as far as possible on students finding their own ways to win credit rather than being required merely to perform a series of uniform tasks set by the instructor. This has some consequences that go against the grain of most of my other courses.
"Extra" Opportunities for Credit. I shall throw out my own suggestions (puzzles to solve, challenges of other kinds) in the classes, but you can bring to us your own ideas. We may use the first ten minutes of each Wednesday Class for this purpose.
FAQs. Our software set up will enable anyone in the class to contribute by posing class-related questions, suggesting answers, offering comments on both the issues raised and the efforts of others to advance our understanding. We shall certainly consider constructive contributions here as meriting credit towards that Final Grade.
Discussions. We shall spend most of
Friday classes after the first week or so on reading and discussion,
Source Texts in translation. (I shall probably
announce an alternative site
for Friday discussions, when we split into groups.)
Active participation in these discussions is one good way of gaining
towards the final grade. But so will the raising of good issues in
classes, during lectures for example, so long as the interventions are
courteous and timely. (A bonus for
Use it to pose questions to others in
the class as well as yourself. Seek credit by researching answers and
and posting them on the board. And do so at your own choice of time and
place. This way the whole class gains, and we all work together. Which
is the way it ought to be! Ada and I will hold a watching brief, and
make our own contributions when we can. We can also make sure you get
for what you do toward that final grade.
1. Prelim Exam in Week VI. This is designed to ensure that
read the Koenigsberger text carefully and thereby set themselves up for
the rest of the course.
Exam questions will include:-
-- IDs from a list helpfully available here on the Web,
-- some geographical IDs on an Outline Map of Europe (Map Aids available here),
-- and comments on some of the source texts Koenigsberger quotes in the book.
This exam will count for approx. 30% of the Final Grade.
2. A Paper (8-12 pp.). This may be on any topic relating to the period, whether covered in class or not.
5.Gloss. Each student must select a brief text, either some medieval text that has caught the fancy during the semester, or a text from the Bible etc. which can be shown to have been (much) read during the medieval period.You should then gloss this, that is explain or explicate it in the margins or between the lines, to draw out the meanings and uses you think contemporaries will have found there. (I shall in due course explain what a "Gloss" was, something of how and why texts were "glossed" and what it might all mean.) We shall reward with bonuses any special initiatives that lead to the enhancement of your Gloss with imaginative layout, calligraphy or illumination. This exercise will count for approx 5% of the Final Grade.
6. History from Fiction. Each student should read one of the three fiction choices before Week XIII. (I have not ordered these. you should acquire them through a local bookshop, or through addall.com or a similar online discount bookshop.) You will then write a maximum of 5 pp. to explain what use a historian might make of the book. This short paper will count for approx. 10% of the Final Grade. You may use images like those of Medieval Grantchester to stimulate your imagination.
7. Credit Opportunities during the first 10 minutes of
Wednesday Class. Each student should bring into class at least one
question on the week's readings for others in the class (!) to
and answer. This is also the prime moment to attempt any "Extra" Credit
|Each student is expected to abide by the CU Code of Academic Integrity. Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the student's own work. The full text is found at http://cuinfo.cornell.edu/Academic/AIC.html. If you have not read this, please do; and come to me with any questions.|
On to The Schedule of Weekly Readings and Assignments