Spring 2023 Course Info on SIS

Course Descriptions

The list below includes descriptions of undergraduate and graduate courses offered by Medieval Studies.

Visit the requirements page for course requirements for specific programs. For up-to-date information on course offerings, schedules, room locations and registration, please visit the Student Information System (SIS).

FR 0092 The Grail Quest in Medieval French Literature. In Perceval by Chrétien de Troyes, the Grail, thought to be a pagan Celtic symbol, first appears in the Arthurian world. When its import eludes the naïve protagonist, the mystery is withdrawn from sight. The object – Christianized in the trilogy by Robert de Boron (Joseph of Arimathea, Merlin, Perceval) – then inspires the knightly Quest of the Holy Grail. Perceval and Bors the Younger are admitted to its presence after many trials, whereas Lancelot’s adulterous affair with Queen Guinevere, recounted in Chrétien’s Knight of the Cart, bars his way. Only Galahad, born expressly for the purpose, will fulfill the deepest aspirations of the quest. Gawain, nephew of the sovereign, prods his uncle into two wars against Lancelot in The Death of King Arthur; Mordred, the king’s illegitimate son, strives to take the royal realm by force. Son and father perish at each other’s hand in open battle, thus marking the dramatic end of Camelot. Class discussions; three exams. Cinematic adaptations will be viewed in tandem with the novels cited above. Fulfills the Related Field requirement in the French Major and the Humanities requirement for Engineers; counts toward the French Culture Option and the Interdisciplinary Minor in Medieval Studies. No prerequisites; conducted in English.

MDVL 0022/Ital 0031 Medieval and Early Modern Italian Literature. An Introduction to Italian Literature from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century, with emphasis on significant literary currents including the Scuola siciliana, the Dolce Stil Novo, and “Humanism.” Particular emphasis will be given to the masterful and innovative role exerted, in the XIII century, in the political and cultural arena by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Germany, King of Italy, and King of Jerusalem. The course is intended to improve analytical skills and strengthen oral and written critical expression.

MDVL 0027/SPN 0032 Medieval & Early Modern Spanish Literature. Examination of works of Spanish literature written between the 11th and 17th centuries. Texts studied span the Middle Ages, an era of intense cultural exchange between the Christians, Muslims, and Jews, through the Renaissance and Baroque period, also known as the Spanish Golden Age. Masterpieces of poetry, theater, and prose will be discussed within the historical context of early modern Spain in its pursuit of imperial power. Conducted in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPN 22, SPN 23, or consent of the instructor. Not for senior majors or students returning from programs abroad.

MDVL 0135/FAH 0220-01/0198-03 The Image in the Middle Ages. This graduate seminar examines medieval notions of images through textual and visual examples that illuminate understandings of the nature and function of representations. The course adopts a broad purview, from Late Antiquity to the late Middle Ages, and from the Latin West and Byzantium to the Islamic and Slavic cultural spheres. By focusing attention on issues of representation — of “likeness and presence” — and reviewing throughout the roles assigned to makers and beholders of images, the course explores the justifications and functions of physical and mental images in worship and devotion. Through readings, writing assignments, presentations, discussions, and research projects, students also engage with issues of aesthetics, philosophical writings and historical accounts about images, as well as text and image relationships. This seminar introduces students to the growing secondary literature in the field of medieval image theory in a global Middle Ages.

MDVL 0149/Hist 139 (Cross-listed w/WGSS 141) Women and Gender in East Asian Tradition. How women made history and how history made women. An international and comparative study of women and gender in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean societies from the seventh to the nineteenth centuries. Women’s multiple roles in political, economic, legal, social, intellectual, and literary history.

MDVL 0150/HIST 0101/CLS 0108 Alexander the Great: History, Myth, Legend. Examination of the life, myth, legend, and legacy of Alexander the Great. Focus on ancient, medieval, and modern accounts in an effort to understand perspectives on Alexander in his own time and how he becomes a heroic figure in variety of different religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Discussion of his broader historical impact and the realities of the empire he created including forms of political organization, issues of security, and perceptions of identity. Investigation of how the historical Alexander relates to the Alexander of legend and myth.

MDVL 0155/HIST 0157/Classics 0110 Empresses, Saints, and Scholars: The Women of Byzantium.  Examination of the themes of political legitimacy, spirituality, education, gender roles, the spread of Byzantine culture, and the evolution of Christian theology through a careful study of the lives of various women of the Byzantine world. This will include examination of the lives of women of the Byzantine Empire, Southeastern Europe, Russia, Western Europe, the kingdoms of Armenia, and the Ottoman Empire

MDVL 0198–Minor Capstone. Capstone project developed in consultation with advisor. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.