Middle Ages

HIST 10101  Introduction to African Civilization I  (E. Osborn)  African Civilization introduces students to African history in a three-quarter sequence. Part One considers literary, oral, and archeological sources to investigate African societies and states from the early Iron Age through the emergence of the Atlantic World. We will study the empires of Ghana and Mali, the Swahili Coast, Great Zimbabwe, and medieval Ethiopia.  We will also explore the expansion of Islam, the origins and effects of European contact, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

HIST 11901  Dracula: History and Legend  (J. Lyon)  Since the publication of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula in 1897, his story of a vampire from Transylvania has often been linked to the history of Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes (died 1476 or 1477). Vlad earned a reputation as a bloodthirsty and cruel warrior (even during his own lifetime) as he fought to rule along the dangerous political and military frontier between the Hungarians and the Ottoman Turks. His savage reputation is the reason why he has been identified as the inspiration for the cold-blooded vampire count, but there is much more to the stories of both the historical and the fictional Dracula. In this course, we will examine the life and career of Vlad III Dracula, setting him in the context of the world of fifteenth-century Christian–Muslim interactions in Eastern Europe, before turning to the later Dracula legend as depicted in Stoker's novel and subsequent films. Throughout the course, we will examine the ways in which Transylvania and neighboring regions have straddled the divide between East and West, Christian Europe and mysterious/violent "other" in both history and popular culture. Open to all undergraduates.

HIST 13001  History of European Civilization I  European Civilization is a two-quarter sequence designed to use close readings of primary sources to enrich our understanding of Europeans of the past. As we examine the variety of their experiences, we will often call into question what we mean in the first place by “Europe” and “civilization.” Rather than providing a narrative of high politics, the sequence will emphasize the contested geographic, religious, social, and racial boundaries that have defined and redefined Europe and its people over the centuries. We will read and discuss sources covering the period from the early Middle Ages to the present, from a variety of genres: saga, biography, personal letters, property records, political treatises, memoirs, and government documents, to name only a few. Individual instructors may choose different sources and highlight different aspects of European civilization, but some of the most important readings will be the same in all sections. The two-quarter sequence may also be supplemented by a third quarter, in which students will have the opportunity to explore in greater depth a particular topic in the history of European civilization.

HIST 13900  Introduction to Russian Civilization I  This two-quarter sequence, which meets the general education requirement in civilization studies, provides an interdisciplinary introduction to Russian civilization. The first quarter covers the ninth century to the 1870s; the second quarter continues on through the post-Soviet period. Working closely with a variety of primary sources—from oral legends to film and music, from political treatises to literary masterpieces—we will track the evolution of Russian civilization over the centuries and through radically different political regimes. Topics to be discussed include the influence of Byzantine, Mongol-Tataric, and Western culture in Russian civilization; forces of change and continuity in political, intellectual and cultural life; the relationship between center and periphery; systems of social and political legitimization; and symbols and practices of collective identity.

HIST 15100  Introduction to East Asian Civilization 1  (G. Alitto)  This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. This is a three-quarter sequence on the civilizations of China, Japan, and Korea, with emphasis on major transformation in these cultures and societies from the Middle Ages to the present. Taking these courses in sequence is not required.

HIST 16602  Markets Before Capitalism  (A. Bresson)  Is the market system a new invention linked to the recent development of modern European societies? Is the market the hero or the villain of the story? Is everything marketable? Is the market the driver for economic development? We will address these and other questions in a deliberately comparative way, focusing on the cases of ancient Mesopotamia, ancient Greece and Rome, and medieval and early modern Europe. We will read excerpts from Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Weber, Polanyi, Braudel, Wallerstein, Geertz, Horden, and Purcell. We will examine the controversies in which these scholars were involved and the echoes they still have in our own contemporary debates. Assignments: Two papers, two quizzes.

HIST 22407  Medieval England  (R. Brown)  How merry was "Olde England"? This course is intended as an introduction to the history of England from the withdrawal of the Roman legions in the early fifth century to the defeat of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field in AD 1485. Sources will include chronicles, biographies, laws, charters, spiritual and political treatises, romances and parodies. Themes will include the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity, the Viking and Norman invasions, the development of the monarchy and parliament, monastic, peasant, and town life, the role of literacy and education in the development of a peculiarly "English" society, and the place of devotion, art, and architecture in medieval English culture. Assignments: Students will have the opportunity to do a research paper or craft a project of their choice based on the themes of the course.