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Courses

FALL 2016


MSCP 70100 Introduction to Medieval Studies [32010] W, 2:00-4:00pm, Prof. Sara McDougall, 3 credits


This course provides an introductory survey of Medieval European culture and society for graduate students, spanning the ninth through fifteenth centuries. This course will be interdisciplinary in approach, drawing on the disciplines of history, literature, art history, and gender studies to explore both scholarly analysis and also the material and textual sources of Medieval Europe, with special attention to marriage, family, and law. Topics will include marriage and divorce, religion, legal theory and practice, punishment, and violence. 

THE FOLLOWING COURSES WILL FULFILL PROGRAM REQUIRMENTS:

ART 72000 - Great Digs: Important Sites of the Ancient Late Antique and Islamic WorldsI [32629], T, 4:15-6:15pm, Rm TBA, Prof Elizabeth Macaulay Lewis, 3 credits. Crosslisted with MALS 74500 & MES 78000
 

This course introduces students to archaeological methods and important archaeological sites from the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds. The course assumes no previous knowledge of archaeology. The two primary methods of archaeological inquiry—excavation and survey—are first introduced, discussed and problematized in this course. We will then consider specific sites – cities, towns and, in certain cases, residences – to understand how archaeology has contributed to our knowledge of these sites. Sites, such as Athens, Alexandria, Rome, Jerusalem and others, will each be the focus of a lecture or seminar. By the end of the course students will gain a knowledge of the principles of archaeological excavation and survey; an understanding of major classes of archaeological evidence and key archaeological theories; some of the important issues and challenges, such as war and cultural destruction, confronting archaeologists today; and a knowledge of important archaeological sites from the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds. Course Requirements: The course is composed of lectures and seminars. In addition to completion of all required readings and active participation in class discussion, there are two major assignments in this course. First, a seven to ten page (2,500- 3,000 words) paper that discusses an archaeological theory, methodology, or type of evidence. This paper may be revised and resubmitted, as this course aims to help students develop their academic writing. Second, students will create a digital site report (effectively a website) about a site of their choice from the Classical, Late Antique or Islamic worlds that has not been discussed in class; this site can be a city or a smaller, specific site. This project aims to teach students how to interpret a site from an archaeological and historical perspective. It should also enable a student to understand and interpret archaeological data and publications, demonstrate the significance of the selected site, and to designed website on a specific site. Students will be supported in creating their website reports through two seminars where the digital skills required to create these site reports will be discussed and demonstrated.

ART 83000 - Making Jerusalem [32026], T, 11:45am-1:45pm, Rm TBA, Prof. Cynthia Hahn, 3 credits.

C L. 80700Cross-Cultural Encounters in Medieval Italian Literature (XIV and XV Centuries) [32046] – GC: M, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Rm. TBA, Prof. Karina Attar, 2/4 Credits.

This course focuses on the representation of cross-cultural encounters in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian novellas and romance epics. More specifically, we will read novellas by Boccaccio, Sercambi, Salernitano, and Cornazano, and selections from La Spagna in rima, Andrea da Barberino’s prose Guerrin Meschino, Pulci’s Morgante, and Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato that dramatize Christian-Muslim diplomatic, military, mercantile, and amorous encounters. We will consider the philological, generic, socio-cultural, and historical contexts that contributed to producing a variety of cross-cultural encounters across both traditions and address questions such as: How do the contexts of travel, slavery, piracy, and war inflect portrayals of Christian-Muslim encounters in each text? How did authors writing at different times, and in different genres, engage social anxieties about real and imagined contacts with Muslims circulating in their day? What kinds of rhetorical strategies and cultural fantasies did novellas and romance epics exploit in fashioning Muslim protagonists who share ideas, values, blows, and intimacy with their Christian counterparts? We will conclude the semester with a brief review of Christian-Muslim encounters in sixteenth-century novellas and romance epics. Throughout the course, students will also have opportunities to reflect on the present-day relevance of images, ideologies, contexts, and terminologies embedded in earlier eras and works. The course approaches these themes and works from an interdisciplinary perspective and is open to students in any specialization. Coursework will include a "conference" abstract and presentation, an annotated bibliography, and a final research paper.

C L. 85500Travel Literature from the Medieval and Early Modern Islamic World [32049] – GC: W, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Rm TBA, Prof. Anna Akasoy, 2/4 Credits.

This course introduces students to prominent examples of travel writing from the medieval and early modern Islamic world and to the historical, religious, political, literary and intellectual contexts of these texts. We will explore issues of geography (imaginary geography, mathematical and human geography, geographical views of ancient Greece and Persia which informed geographical literature in the Islamic world), the history of travelling and networks (including aspects such as long-distance trade, pilgrimages and travelling for the purpose of education), diversity within the medieval and early modern Islamic world, and imperial views of the world. We will also be taking into consideration visual, including cartographic, representations of the world and its distant parts and discuss the relationship between texts and images. Texts discussed in the class include the tenth-century Ibn Fadlan who wrote an account of his visit to the Volga Bulgars (which inspired Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead and the film The 13th Warrior); the twelfth-century Andalusi Ibn Jubayr who travelled during a pilgrimage to Mecca and his contemporary, the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela who visited some of the same Middle Eastern regions; the fourteenth-century Ibn Battuta (often compared to Marco Polo on account of the extent of their travels); and the Ottoman Evliya Celebi.

ENGL 80700 -- Problems in Posthumanism [32074], GC, M, 2:00-4:00pm, Rm. TBA, Prof. Karl Steel, 2/4 credits

It is too easy for a posthumanist critique to retroactively construct a concept of the "human" that invisibly possesses all the characteristics of an able, straight white man, well-off and comfortable, who, by being pushed out of his humanism, can somehow lead us all -- whoever "we" are -- into a new and better engagement with "the world." This seminar will aim to linger on the variegated category of the human, alongside, with, and through categories of the "animal" and "nature," considering them all both historically and alongside critiques of and engagements with posthumanism from a queer, gender, disability, and critical race theory perspectives. We will read work by Stacy Alaimo, Donna Haraway, Mel Y Chen, Alexander G. Weheliye, the GLQ special issue on "Queer Inhumanisms," among others. Although our readings will largely be focused in critical animal theory and ecocriticism, we will use various well-known literary texts as laboratories for our critical practice. Since I am a medievalist, these texts will largely, but not entirely, be drawn from the Middle Ages, although some early modern writers (like Margaret Cavendish) will also be considered. Apart from the usual requirements of a seminar (a seminar paper, leading discussion), you will also be asked to practice writing in several academic genres (a sample syllabus, a book review, a call for papers). Reading knowledge of Middle English is welcome, although not required.

ENGL 87400 - Text and Archive [32072], GC, M, 11:45am-1:45pm, Rm TBA, Prof. Michael Sargent, 2/4 credits

This course will consider textual production, transmission, and storage in its manifold historical and contemporary variants, with a particular eye towards both critical and methodological approaches. Using theoretical perspectives drawn from, e.g., M.T. Clanchy, Ivan Illich, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Wlad Godzich, Gilles Deleuze, Jerome McGann, David Greetham, and Matthew Gold, we will explore questions of production, reproduction, writing, printing, encoding, preservation, de-accession, and destruction in relationship to textuality, from traditional as well as digital contexts. Beginning with parietal art (cave painting and petroglyphs), we will navigate the rise and history of various writing systems and media, the development of textual criticism, the "Print Revolution," and questions of access and recovery in contemporary archives. Guest speakers will address specific topics including fifteenth and sixteenth century bibles, the work of the Sofer SeTaM (Torah scribe), recitation of the Quran, issues of scholarly access to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other recent textual discoveries, and the implications of digital humanities research in textual and archival research. This course will also offer an opportunity for students to research, contextualize, and consider participating in textual and archival initiatives at the Graduate Center, such as the GC Digital Initiatives and Lost and Found.

PHIL 76100 - Medieval Theories of the Will, Virtue, and Perfection [32396], GC, M, 2:00-4:00pm, Rm. TBA, Prof. Jonathan Jacobs, 4 credits. The course will focus on issues concerning agency, volition, virtue, and conceptions of the best life for a human being (rather than metaphysics—the problem of universals, arguments for the existence of God, modality, etc.). We will explore topics such as the relation between reason and desire, the acquisition and plasticity of states of character, issues of moral life such as forgiveness, revision of one’s dispositions (e.g. repentance), the proper role of passions, and how these figure in the conception of the best kind of life. Also, significant issues of moral epistemology will figure throughout the course and we will consider several metaethical matters and their relevance. The readings will come from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thinkers, (roughly 300-1300) e.g. Augustine, Alfarabi, Anselm, Maimonides, Aquinas, Scotus, and others.