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Spring 2011 Graduate Courses


HIST 550D The Ancient Historians

M 2:20 pm - 5:20 pm SW 310

The seminar will examine the conceptions of history, historical methods and the nature of historical writing in the ancient world, primarily, but not exclusively, Greco-Roman. Focus will be how these historians thought about the past, their use and abuse of source materials, how they were chosen, their underlying values and presupposition, their methods, audiences and purposes. Format: The seminar will meet once a week for three hours to discuss the historians selected. Evaluation will be based on class participation and on a 20-25 page term paper. Graduate students in HIST 550D will, in addition, give an oral report to the seminar based on their research. Books: A. de Selincourt & J. Marincola, HERODOTUS. THE HISTORIES; R. Warner & M..I. Finley, rev. ed., THUCYDIDES. HISTORY OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR; A. de Selincourt & J. R. Hamilton, ARRIAN. THE CAMPAIGNS OF ALEXANDER; A. de Selincourt & R. Ogilvie, LIVY. THE EARLY HISTORY OF ROME, BOOKS I-V; M. Grant, TACITUS. THE ANNALS OF IMPERIAL ROME, rev. ed.; W. Hamilton & A. Wallace-Hadrill, AMMIANUS MARCELLINUS. THE LATER ROMAN EMPIRE; G. A. Williamson, EUSEBIUS. THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH FROM CHRIST TO CONSTANTINE; R. Dawson, SIMA QIAN. HISTORICAL RECORDS. Cross-listed with HIST 550D.

Instructor: Kadish



HIST 552A Renaissance Venice 1300-1700

R 1:15 PM – 4:15 PM SW 310

This course is a graduate seminar which concentrates on the fortunes of the Republic between the age of Marco Polo and the age of Vivaldi. It is an exercise in ‘total history’ over the ‘long perspective’ of the period. The successive stages of study will involve attention to the peculiarities of the environment of Venice, population changes in the city and its territorial and maritime possessions, the commercial and manufacturing sectors of the economy, the structures of political power, the characteristics of religious life and the contours of the cultural achievements of the Renaissance in their Venetian context. Particular attention turns to the concepts of the ‘myth of Venice’ and of ‘decline’. The fundamental problem under scrutiny is how a constitution which defined the ruling class so narrowly could remain stable - and admired - for so long. Throughout the course, there will be discussion of the nature and scope of historical sources and the problems involved in their prioritization and configuration. Moreover, the singularities of Venice will have a constant comparison with other cities and states. Essay topics will fit the research specialisms of each member of the class. Format: One seminar per week; one essay; marks for attendance and participation. Books: Chambers and Pullan, Venice: A Documentary History; Martin and Romano, Venice Reconsidered; Lane, Venice: A Maritime Republic; Chambers, The Imperial Age of Venice; Crouzet-Pavan, Venice Triumphant; Fenlon, Ceremonial City. Prerequisites: This is a course for graduate students Corequisites: None Notes: Some background in medieval, Renaissance or ‘early modern’ history may be an advantage.

Instructor: Mackenney



HIST 552T Black Death & Medieval Society

W 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM EB N22

The Black Death of 1348-51 was one of the defining ecological events of Eurasian history, and plagues continued to return regularly for four more centuries. Every culture struck by the plague reacted dramatically in its own fashion, and in Europe the Black Death shook medieval Christian society to its roots. Students in this seminar will study the social, religious, artistic, and scientific responses to plague in late medieval Europe through close readings of primary and secondary sources, and the study of works of art. Class format will primarily be discussion led by the students, with occasional lectures, slides, and films. Students will be assessed by active preparation and participation, two oral presentations, and a major research paper (15-20 pages for undergrad, 25 pages for grad, with revisions) on a key aspect or historiographical issue related to the Black Death. This course is intended for seniors and graduate students in History and Medieval Studies.

Instructor: Winston E. Black



MDVL 560A History of the Book: from Parchment to the Printing Press

T 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm SL 311

Kindles? Ebooks?! This seminar invites you into a world in which parchment was the only way to read. It provides an introduction to manuscript culture during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Students will learn about the historical contexts in which manuscripts were produced, the people who commissioned them, and the changing uses to which they were put (from new forms of bookkeeping and the promulgation of legal codes to new practices in religious devotion and the development of reading publics in literature and scholarship). In this interdisciplinary course we will examine production techniques and changes in materials, writing styles and illustration techniques. Thus students will acquire basic knowledge in palaeography (the study of historical scripts), codicology (the study of the material aspects of manuscripts), and illumination (the painted decoration of manuscript folios and margins). Study materials will include digital images, slides, facsimiles and original manuscripts and incunabula (early printed books) at the Bartle Library and at the Cornell University Library. Prerequisites: Designed for students with college-level reading skills in a Romance language or Latin. Those without the requisite language skills may be admitted through petition, at the discretion of the instructor. Format: class discussions and limited lectures. Grading will be based on attendance, class participation and discussion, oral presentations (25%) and reading reports (25%), a preliminary draft of a 20-page paper (25%), and a final, polished draft of the paper based on faculty editing and feedback (25%). Learning outcomes: Students will gain an understanding of the principal historical phases, styles, and contexts for manuscript production during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Students will examine the uses of manuscripts during Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Students will acquire basic knowledge of palaeography, codicology, and manuscript illumination and will have an opportunity to work with original manuscripts.

Instructor: Chronopoulos



MDVL 560B Love, Science & Magic

M 3:30 pm - 6:30 pm S2 243

What is love? Medieval poets attempted to answer this question by drawing on knowledge from all spheres, especially science. In this course students read scientific and literary works as they consider the medieval views on such topics as the nature of lovesickness, the psychology of desire, the physics of love at first sight, the power of demons and the magical properties of crystals. FORMAT: Lectures and discussions in English. Two exams; two oral presentations. Students taking the course for credit toward an Italian major or minor are required to read literary texts in Italian. Students taking the course for graduate credit are required to write a research paper. Cross-listed with ITAL 581I.

Instructor: Dana E. Stewart



MDVL 560C Reading Group/Global Trade & Commerce

W 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm LN 1128

The Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies offers a seminar run as a reading group in conjunction with its interdisciplinary Institute on Global Trade and Commerce in Spring 2011. Students will attend a number of the public lectures chosen from CEMERS’s semester-long series (see list below) and read one related essay or article per lecture, exploring the themes of each talk through conversational sessions with the presenting scholars. They will also meet together in closed sessions with the instructor of the seminar, to discuss and critique the essays and to evaluate the public lectures, assessing their structure (thesis, background introduced, points made, and conclusion) and effectiveness as examples of public speaking. Credit hours (1-4) will be determined on an individual basis, according to the number of lectures and discussion sessions that each student plans to attend. For 1-2 credits, oral presentations will count for 100% of the final grade; for 3-4 credits, oral presentations will count for 75% of the final grade, with some writing assignments required.

Schedule of Lectures:

(This course can also be taken at the undergraduate level as an Independent Study with Prof. Bruce for 1 -4 credits.)

Instructor: Travis Bruce



MDVL 561D European Merchants & Other Medieval Travelers: Texts in Context

R 2:20 PM - 5:20 PM S2 G39

European Merchants and Other Medieval Travelers: Texts in Context. The later Middle Ages was a period of expanding trade and commerce throughout Europe. Italian merchants imported precious metals, spices, linen, paper, and other products from the eastern Mediterranean, developing a taste for these goods in the West, and exported finished goods to the fairs of northern Europe. The Crusades brought about increased contact with the East. This course will examine fictional and non-fictional representations of voyages and of merchants in the Middle Ages, and explore what travel and trade meant in a period in which society was largely agrarian and insular, readership was largely urban or courtly, and Christians looked to the afterlife for fulfillment. What impact did travel have on medieval culture? What did contact with other peoples represent for Europeans, not just in practical terms, but spiritually and symbolically as well? Texts to be examined include the Travels of Marco Polo and of John Mandeville, stories from the Novellino and Boccaccio’s Decameron, Chaucer’s “Shipman’s Tale,” the Book of Margery Kempe, and Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. Student oral and written expression will be emphasized, especially student production of literary analysis in the context of larger historical and cultural trends. Two oral presentations; one research paper; several shorter "response" papers. Cross-listed with ENG 511C.

Instructor: Olivia W. Holmes



MDVL 561G Representing Borders/Picturing Frontiers

F 9:40 am - 12:40 pm FA 225

What constitutes a border? What is a frontier? What determines their confines, extent, and reach? That they shift over time speaks volumes about their contingent nature –about the social, cultural, religious, economic, and political dimensions of their determination. So do the modalities and practices used to “mark” their limits and “document” their reach, which often impart to them the sense of an essential and enduring character. This interdisciplinary seminar takes a critical look at these practices, beginning with cartography. We will explore how the formal language and structure of maps mediate “information” about land mass, bodies of water, people and practices–all of which, at different times and in different places, have been the object of mapping. It also looks at mapping and the building of fences, walls, and other barriers in the context of geo-politics, in the engendering of a sense of community and the formation of states. Its purpose is to examine the practices (material, visual, virtual) used to establish an inside and an outside – that which lies within the border and that which is situated beyond. The frontier, that putative beyond, is often given as a primitive zone of uncertainties and danger, beyond the law, beyond the reach of any state or belonging to an alterity (state, stateless, or otherwise) that is radically different and incommensurate with what is captured or confined within. Developing a common set of working assumptions based on assigned readings, students will then work independently on representational practices that appear to fix borders and frontiers or, conversely, that seem to refuse or undo them. While readings will emphasize historical shifts in practice, research may focus on any time or place, including urban centers as well as territories at the edges or limits of inhabited space, and may take up cartography, landscape painting, photography, or any other representational practice (including performance practices) contributing to the discourse of an inside/outside in terms of border and frontier. Grades will be based on weekly seminar discussions of the readings, oral presentations, and a written paper due during finals week. Cross-listed with ARTH 550D and PIC 615A.

Instructor: Barzman



MDVL 561L Living on the Edge: Frontiers

W 2:20 pm - 5:20 pm SL 311

This seminar will draw on interdisciplinary methods and sources ranging from historical narratives to travelogues and material culture to explore how European and extra-European medieval societies communicated across borders. These borders can be geographical, at the limits of polities and spheres of influence, but they also existed within seemingly homogenous societies, where religious or ethnic minorities lived alongside an often dominant and exclusionary majority. Examples of medieval frontiers societies thus include Islamic Spain, Southern Italy, the Levant, Northern Africa and the eastern reaches of the Islamic World. Cross-cultural dialogue characterized each of these areas, leaving lasting effects on Western and Islamic societies. Societal frontiers likewise existed around Jewish communities within Christendom and Dār al-Islām, a situation with consequences noticeable in contemporary society. Frontiers functioned as zones of communication, or commercial and intellectual transfer. Conflict was one form of communication, whether through violence or oppression, but rarely excluded other forms. Increased economic exchange, for example, followed on the heels of the Crusader armies, and the Christian conquest of Muslim Toledo and Sicily led to intellectual translations that shaped European scholarly traditions for centuries. Students will examine the concept of boundaries in these societies, how those boundaries were defined, the effects of boundaries, and the extent to which they determined people’s daily lives. Students will learn to apply information from a variety of sources to gain an understanding of pre-modern peoples and civilizations, while also developing critical thinking skills. Format: Class discussions and limited lectures. Grading will be based on attendance, class participation and discussions, reading reports, and a 20-page paper. Students will present early versions of their research in class, responding to questions and positive criticism from their peers. Early versions of student papers will likewise be submitted to the instructor for comments and subsequent revision.

Instructors: Travis C. Bruce



ENG 565C Shakespeare and Gender

T/R 1:15 pm – 2:40 pm FA 225

Shakespeare and Gender: We consider a range of plays highlighting such issues as Shakespeare's metamorphosing transvestism, celebrations and critiques of conventional masculinity, brother/sister projections of sexual decorum, the evolution of female characters, etc., against a background of historical context and contemporary critical approaches. The syllabus is not yet set, but will probably include AS YOU LIKE IT or TWELFTH NIGHT, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, MACBETH, KING LEAR, and THE WINTER'S TALE. The seminar centers on discussion with individual presentations, and a final paper (open format).

Instructor: Whittier



ENG 565E Literature & Performance 18th Century England

T/R 11:40 AM – 1:05 PM SW 330

Lit & Performance in 18th C. England. This seminar approaches eighteenth-century English literature in the context of the significance the period attached to performed behavior and performative expression. Reading and discussion will address three aspects of the relationship between literature and performance in the early modern England: 1) the emphasis in drama, fiction, and poetry on spectacle and the theatricalization of culture; 2) the importance of performance in debates over the idea of art as simulation or an illusion of what is not really present and the opposing idea of art as a replica or creation of a model of what is real; 3) constructions in the literature of a “performing self” and, in philosopher Charles Taylor’s phrasing, the Lockean idea of a human being who “remake[s] himself by methodical and disciplined action.” Readings for the seminar will include theoretical studies of performance by Jean-Christophe Agnew, Jonas Barish, Judith Butler, Terry Castle, J. Hillis Miller, and Richard Schechner, together with the following primary texts: Aphra Behn, The Rover; William Congreve, The Way of the World; Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders; Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews and Shamela; John Gay, The Beggar’s Opera; Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote; Alexander Pope, Dunciad; Samuel Richardson, Pamela, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; William Wycherley, The Country Wife. There will be weekly short critical papers (1-2 pages) on the primary texts. The papers will frame questions on our readings, direct discussions, and provide subjects for two outside essays (about 8-10 pages) on the literature. In addition to the short weekly papers and outside essays, there will be a final essay examination that focuses on the critical and theoretical readings for the seminar and their relationship to the primary texts.

Instructor: Michael J. Conlon



SPAN 581T Sor Juana

T/R 2:50 PM – 4:15 PM

This course will explore the literary creativity and social marginalization of two of New Spain's (Mexico's) greatest writers of the seventeenth century, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Emphasis on the theatrical works of both writers and the poetry of the latter, including the reasons for her unique place in Mexican culture today. Salazar y Torres was a Spaniard raised in Mexico. Today he is claimed by both countries, and he was considered the heir to Calderón's dramatic style, especially in works written for the Spanish court. Class discussion and participation necessary. Exams and research paper required. PREREQUISITES: SPAN 344 and SPAN 360 or equivalent. Cross-listed with LACS 580A.

Instructor: O’Connor



MDVL 690A Worlds Sugar & Coffee Made

W 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM EB N22

The course examines the transformation of sugar and coffee from rare items of luxury consumption to items of mass consumption from 1500 until today. It focuses on the geographical diffusion of sugar and coffee, historical transformations of production and consumption, environmental and geographical conditions, and diverse forms labor recruitment and organization. These developments are examined in the context of market formation and merchant communities, interstate rivalry and war. Cross-listed with SOC 690A.

Instructor: Tomich

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Last Updated: 2/2/11