The Middle Ages:
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.
"The Middle Ages: The Making of Europe" will consider European society, politics, and religion 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 This course will depend heavily upon contemporary literary and historical documents as source materials, supporting these primary texts with a few works of recent historical criticism.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 long twelfth century--the period between the Investitutre Contest of 1077 and the death of Francis of Assisi in 1226--as the fullest expression of a medieval world view. Common readings and discussions will emphasize how the prior centuries framed twlefth-century European civilization, and the ways in which documentary and literary relics exhibit its mature self-understanding. Readings and activities will give special emphasis on the ways in which twelfth-century people invested their lives with meaning and beauty, although related discussions will test the long-held view that the "renaissance of the twelfth century" should be so characterized.
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 and external margins--among people such as Vikings, Saracens, Jews, heretics, and critics of the established order.
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 H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009). ISBN-10: 1442601043
Benedict of Nursia, Rule of St. Benedict, trans. Timothy Fry (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press, 1982). ISBN-10: 0814612725
Abelard and Heloise, The Letters and Other Writings, trans. William Levitan (New York: Hackett, 2007). ISBN-10: 0140455051
Samuel Fanous et al. (trans.), Life of Christina of Markyate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). ISBN-10: 0199556059
Marie de France, Lais of Marie de France, trans. Glyn Burgess and Keith Busby, 2nd ed. (New York: Penguin, 1999). ISBN-10:0140447598
Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis, trans. Ewert Cousins (New York: HarperOne, 2005). ISBN-10: 0060576529
John Aberth, The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350--A Brief History with Documents (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). ISBN-10: 1403968020
The following further reading 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.
Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, trans. Sidney Painter (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960), 13-75.
Dhuoda, Handbook for William, trans. Carol Neel (Lincoln NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1991), 1-13, 21-42, 83-106.
Brian Tierney, The Crisis of Church and State 1050-1300 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 7-23, 45-73, 85-95.
The following films will be subjects of critical discussion:
Peter Glenville, Becket (1964)
Ridley Scott, Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Liliana Cavani, Francesco (1989)
Students will be responsible for careful reading thoughtful consideration, demonstrated in classroom discussion, of all assigned texts. 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 be at 9 AM for an introduction to the material and discussion of the syllabus.
Mon. "Middle" Ages, Middle "Ages"?
Passion of Perpetua and Felicity (entire text)
Tues. Empire and Christian Community
Benedict (entire text); Rosenwein 21-56
Weds. The Carolingian Ideal
Einhard (entire text); Rosenwein 61-100
Thurs. After Charlemagne
Dhuoda; Rosenwein 118-135
Fri. BREAKFAST MEETING 8AM
The Kingdoms and the Church
Mon. One Christendom
Tierney 7-23, 45-73, 85-95; Rosenwein 182-201, 231-237
1pm FILM: Becket
Tues. The Love of Learning
Abelard 1-105, 257-275; Rosenwein 203-216
Weds. The Love of Love
Marie (entire text)
2:30pm--SHORT COMMENTARY PAPER DUE
Thurs. The Love of God
Rosenwein 252-259; Life of Christina of Markyate (entire text)
1PM LIBRARY RESOURCES SESSION WITH LIBRARIAN DARYL ALDER-STEVENS
7:30pm LECTURE by Thomas Cohen, "Jews and Jesuits" (Shove Chapel)
Fri. INDIVIDUAL MEETINGS WITH INSTRUCTOR AND LIBRARIAN DARYL ALDER-STEVENS
Mon. Europe's Boundaries
Rosenwein 272-274, 297-301
PM INDIVIDUAL PAPER CONFERENCES WITH INSTRUCTOR
Tues. FILM: Kingdom of Heaven
NOON PIZZA AND GROUP PAPER WORKSHOPPING
Weds. Bonaventure (entire text)
Thurs. REVIEW SESSION
Fri. Spiritual Frontiers
FINAL ESSAY EXAM DUE NOON
Mon. The Passing of the Middle Ages
Aberth 1-6, 11-22, 31-34, 41-50, 67-74, 117-126, 139-143, 176-178; Rosenwein 305-326
Tues. WRITING DAY
Weds. 10-PAGE PAPER DUE NOON (History Office)
Click here for the ORB, a collection of primary materials on medieval civilization.