The Middle Ages:
The Making of Europe

History 274

Block 5, 2013-2014
Carol Neel

But move backwards into the Middle Ages and you are in a world almost equally foreign.  A windowless hut, a wood fire which smokes in your face because there is no chimney, mouldy bread, "Poor John," lice, scurvy, a yearly child-birth and a yearly child-death, and the priest terrifying you with tales of hell.--George Orwell, North and South (1937)

We seem to be embarked upon a journey into darkness.  Part of the final examination for this course will be to comment on Orwell's remarks as a modern's vision of the European Middle Ages.
 

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

"The Middle Ages: The Making of Europe" will consider European society, politics, and culture from their foundations in late antiquity to their reshaping in the fifteenth century.  This course will depend heavily upon contemporary literary and historical documents as source materials, supporting these primary texts with a few works of recent historical criticism.  Discussion sessions will assume some rudimentary understanding of the shape of the western past and of Christian thought.  Students unfamiliar with the Christian tradition are advised to find copies of the New Testament and to read at least the gospel of Matthew before they undertake the assignments described below.

This year’s version of HY 274 will center on the boundaries of medieval life--how Europeans came to define themselves in this period as Latin Christendom, and where they understood their community's internal and external frontiers to lie.  Common readings and discussions will emphasize the ways in which documentary, literary, and material relics exhibit a European self-understanding, placing special emphasis on the ways in which medieval people invested their lives with meaning and beauty. 

Most of the medieval works we will consider together were, for all their difference from ourselves and contemporaries, part of the mainstream of medieval culture.  In order to explore the Middle Ages' fuller range of identities, students will therefore be encouraged to focus their research interests on Europe's internal margins--among people such as Vikings, Saracens, Jews, heretics, and critics of the established order.

 

READINGS 

The following works or collections, required for the entire class, are available in the College Bookstore.  Several of these texts are in print in variety of translations.  Students are nonetheless urged to use those selected for class, so that discussion may easily refer to selected passages. 

Barbara Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, 3rd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009).  ISBN-10: 1442601043

Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney (New York: Norton, 2001).  ISBN-10: 0393320979

Einhard and Notker, Two Lives of Charlemagne, trans. David Ganz (New york: Penguin, 2008).  Iong of Roland,

Maureen Miller (ed. and trans.), Power and the Holy in the Age of the Investiture Conflict: A Brief History with Documents (Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005).  ISBN-10: 0312404689

Abelard and Heloise, The Letters and Other Writings, trans William Levitan (Indianapolis and Cambridge: Hackett, 2007).  ISBN-10: 0872208753

Marie de France, Lais of Marie de France, trans. Glyn Burgess and Keith Busby (New York: Penguin, 1999).  ISBN-10: 0140447598

Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis, trans. Ewert Cousins (New York: HarperOne 2005).  ISBN-10: 0060576529

Robert Bartlett, The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, memory, and Colonialism in the Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).  ISBN-10: 0691126046

 

The following further readings are available on this course's PROWL site on the CC webpage: 

Passion of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, trans. H. R. Musurillo, in Elizabeth Alvilda Petroff, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 70-77.

Fulcher of Chartres, Chronicle of teh First Crusade, Book 1, in The First Crusade. ed. Edward Peters, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 47-101.    

The following films will  be subjects of critical discussion:

Peter Glenville (dir.), Becket (1964)

Clive Donner (dir.), Stealing Heaven (1988)

Ridley Scott (dir.), Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Liliana Cavani (dir.), Francesco (1989)

                     

                   

COURSE REQUIREMENTS  

Vigorous and well-prepared discussion contribution is fundamental to students' successful performance in this course.  Students will be responsible for careful reading and thoughtful consideration of all assigned texts.  In addition, each will be required to submit

 

One third of the final grade will depend on class participation, one third on the research essay, and a final third on the short paper and and exam considered together.  All students will be expected to finish assigned readings before class meetings on the day for which they are listed.  Readings for which no page numbers are listed are to be read in their entirety.  No written assignments will be accepted late without prior excuse.  Papers will observe Chicago Manual of Style reference form.  All written work will acknowledge the Colorado College Honor Code.

 

SCHEDULE OF CLASS MEETINGS AND ASSIGNMENTS

Discussion titles are indicated below in bold face, written assignments and special scheduling or locations in upper case.  The class will meet in Palmer 233 at 9:30 am, unless otherwise noted, except for the first day of the block, when class will meet at 9 am for an introduction to the material and discussion of the syllabus, then again at 1 pm for discussion of a first short reading. 

Mon.            "Middle" Ages, Middle "Ages"?

                     INTRODUCTION 9 am

                     SECOND CLASS MEETING 1 PM: Passion of Perpetua and Felicity (entire text)

Tues.            Empire and Christian Community

                      Beowulf (entire text); Rosenwein 21-56

Weds.           The Carolingian Ideal

 

             Einhard (entire text); Rosenwein 61-100

 

Thurs.           INDIVIDUAL PAPER MEETINGS WITH INSTRUCTOR

 

                Rosenwein 118-135

Fri.                Before France and Germany

                      Rosenwein 152-172

 

Mon.            The Kingdoms and the Church

               Miller 1-27, documents 3, 10, 15, 19, 20, 21, 39

               FILM 1 pm: Becket

Tues.            Authority and Sanctity

               Miller documents 31, 32, 35; Rosenwein 182-201, 231-237

Weds.          The Love of Learning

                Abelard 1-46; Rosenwein 2013-216

               GALLERY WALK 11 am: I.D.E.A Space Devotional Cultures exhibition

Thurs.          Women, Men, and God

 

    Abelard 49-104, 265-275

    FILM 1 pm: Stealing Heaven

   

Fri.               Europeans and Outsiders

               SHORT PAPER DUE IN CLASS

               Fulcher; Rosenwein 252-279, 297-301

         

                                                               

Mon.            The Love of Love

               Marie (entire text)

        

Tues.           The Poor and the Others Inside

               Bonaventure (entire text)

Weds.           BREAKFAST AND REVIEW SESSION 8 am

Thurs.          ESSAY EXAM DUE 2 pm

                 

Fri.               FILM: Francesco

                       

Mon.            Medieval Frontiers

                    Bartlett (entire volume); Rosenwein 305-327

Tues.           NOON PIZZA AND PAPER WORKSHOPS

Weds.          10-PAGE PAPER DUE NOON (History Office) 

 

Click here for the ORB, and internet sourcebook on medieval civilization, and here another well-selected online source, the Fordham Medieval Sourcebook.