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FALL 2017


MSCP 80500.  Literature, Law, and the Penitential Body.  Tuesdays 2:00PM-4:00PM, Room TBA. 4 credits, Prof. Jay Paul Gates. 
Ranging across injury, ordeal, execution, judicial mutilation, and torture as represented in Anglo-Saxon literary and legal texts, this course explores imagined social structures over the 600-year Anglo-Saxon period and conceptions of the role of the embodied individual in those structures. Issues to be examined are intersections between the imagined social structures as represented by the literature and the laws as well as potential divergences; shifts from a fragmented, family-, and feud-oriented structure to one based on the individual Christian as a confessional subject; and the roles and responsibilities of legal authorities such as judges, kings, and bishops within each structure.

The following courses will fulfill program requirements:

ENGL 80800. Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: Animals, Nature, and Agency. Thursdays 11:45AM-1:45PM, Room TBA. 2/4 credits, Prof. Karl Steel
“So pricketh hem Nature in hir corages”: apart from reading Chaucer’s unfinished masterpiece, this course will focus on the implications of this single line—how can we, and should we even, distinguish between Nature’s “pricking” of the hearts of birds and its pricking of our hearts? Where can we locate the agency of Springtime piety, or of the other cultural formations of this collection of texts, whether these be the gendering of violence (Knight’s Tale), the compulsions of class and jealousy (Clerk’s Tale), or the helpless binding of character to story (Man of Law’s Tale)? Along the way, the course will offer introductions to Critical Animal Theory, major concerns in Ecocriticism, and readings in free choice and causality, from Augustine and Boethius through to the end of the Middle Ages. 
Course requirements will include two book reviews (one on a medieval topic, one on a related topic in contemporary, theoretically sophisticated scholarship), and the usual seminar paper. Familiarity with Chaucer’s Middle English is helpful but not required.

HIST. 76000. Early Modern Iberian/Colonial Latin America. Wednesday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Herman Bennett
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HIST. 77950. Islamic rulership: the caliphate in theory and practice. Tuesday, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Profs. Anna Akasoy and Chase Robinson
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RSCP 72100. Neoplatonism across Time and Faith (cross-listed as Comp Lit 80900 and ENGL 71000). Wednesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm.,Room TBA, 3/4 credits, Profs. Clare Carroll & Feisal Mohamed
Engaging in questions of Platonic influence may seem to support a traditional view of the Renaissance as reviving and redoubling a unitary sense of Western culture tracing its roots to ancient Greece. This course poses a strong challenge to that narrative. By focusing on the Platonism of late antiquity, we in fact engage in a profound re-mapping of the period’s engagement with classical and medieval locales, one less centered on Athens and Rome and taking into its ken Alexandria, Damascus, and Baghdad.
The Neoplatonic tradition was the philosophical limgua franca of the Renaissance: the rediscovery of Plotinus and Proclus achieved in no small measure through the prodigious influence of Marsilio Ficino was a spark generating widespread interest. And as was recognized in the period, it is a tradition that spans all three Abrahamic faiths: the great wellspring of biblical Neoplatonism is the Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria, whose influence can be discerned in the seminal Christian mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius and in the Islamic tradition of falsafa. These interests certainly display themselves in literature, though this course will ask whether such engagements constitute thick intellectual engagement or a merely ornamental embellishment.
We will see in the course how Neoplatonism continues to provide a common philosophical language to theologians of all three faiths, as in the work of the twentieth-century Shi’a philosopher Henri Corbin and of the member of the “Radical Orthodoxy” school Simon Oliver.

MALS 74500. Great Digs: important sites of the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic Worlds.Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Rm. TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
This class exposes students to major archaeological sites from the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds. It seeks to broaden students’ awareness of archaeological methods and aims to demonstrate how interconnected the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds were. Two major types of archaeological techniques, excavation and survey, are introduced.The course will then focus on examples from all periods surveyed in the track, including sites such as Classical Athens, Rome, Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli), Pompeii, Alexandria, Constantinople, Ravenna, Jerusalem, Dura Europos, and Samarra. These examples and others will serve as case studies that demonstrate how specific sites shaped our knowledge of human history.