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Ancient/Medieval Renaissance Course Descriptions

The following undergraduate and graduate courses may be of interest to students who want to learn about the Ancient or the Medieval-Renaissance period or study classical languages.

Program Information

Information about the Major and Minor in Classical Civilization

Information about the Minor in Medieval-Renaissance Studies and the Medieval-Renaissance Program

Information about the Major or Minor in Classics

Course Descriptions by Category:


ANT 141 Introduction to Archaeology and Prehistory
Christopher DeCorse

Survey of the prehistoric past spanning the origins of humankind through the rise of complex societies. Class activities and field trip provide a hands-on introduction to archaeological interpretation.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

ANT 348 Mummies, Tombs, and Treasure
Christopher DeCorse

Drawing on exciting discoveries from the history of archaeology the course traces the fields history from the first antiquarians to the emergence of the field as a scientific discipline.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

HOA 302 - Greek Art and Architecture
Matilde Mateo-Sevilla

In this class you will learn to appreciate Greek art in its own context and from a historical perspective. You will gain a good understanding about how art works were used, what they meant, what was valued about them in ancient times and what impact they still have today. Besides learning about styles and techniques, this course will also introduce you to many fascinating aspects of the interaction between art and politics, religion, gender representation and philosophical ideals. Special attention will be given to consecrated masterpieces such as the Doryphoros, the Parthenon or the Cnidian Aphrodite. It is expected that by the end of this course, you will be able to think, talk and write about Greek art with a critical and informed mind.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

HST 210 The Ancient World
Albrecht Diem

This course surveys the history of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, and explores the classical roots of modern civilization. We will begin with the first civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the roots of western religion in ancient Israel; then proceed through Bronze Age, archaic and classical Greece, the Persian wars, the trial of Socrates, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic world, the rise of Rome, and end with the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of Christianity. The course will treat political, social, cultural, religious and intellectual history. We will focus on issues that the ancients themselves considered important – good and bad government, the duties of citizens and the powers of kings and tyrants – but we will also examine those who were marginalized by the Greeks and Romans: women, slaves, so-called "barbarians." The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary sources, in order to provide a window into the thought-worlds and value systems of past societies. (Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

HST 300 Herodotus and the Persian Wars
Craige Champion

Herodotus has been called the father of history, the first anthropologist, the first ethnographer...and the father of lies. His History is our principal source for the fifth-century B.C.E. Persian invasions of Greece. This was a dramatic moment in the history of the ancient Greeks, and especially for its two leading states, Athens and Sparta, as the unlikely Greek repulse of the Persians gave new self-confidence to the Greeks and led to a cultural flourishing, typically called the Classical Age, especially in democratic Athens. But beyond ancient Greek history, the Persian invasions have symbolized the triumph of a way of life in the western intellectual tradition. Earlier European and American thinkers saw the Greek victory against the Persians as a victory of culture over barbarism; as the salvation of western freedom and rationalism over "oriental despotism." This dimension of our subject matter is very much at the heart of contemporary culture wars, leading to questions about the value of the ancient Greek historical experience for us today, the proper place of the ancient Greeks in today's educational curricula, and whether we can say, or should say, that there is anything special and exceptional about the ancient Greeks in relation to other ancient societies in today's multiethnic, multicultural, and diverse American culture.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

HST 352 History of Ancient Greece
Craige Champion
Survey of ancient Greek political, economic, social and cultural history based on interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the Bronze Age through Alexander the Great.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

HST 353 History of Ancient Rome
Craige Champion

A comprehensive survey of ancient Roman political, economic, social and cultural history based on the interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the foundation of the city through the dissolution of the Empire in the west. Special focus is given to important topics and themes in Roman history, including Roman foundation legends, the interrelationship of Roman statecraft and Roman religion, Roman aristocratic ethical values and imperialism, the Roman reaction to Greek culture and literature, the imperial cult of the Roman emperor, the position of women in Roman society, the Roman institution of slavery, the origins and early growth of Christianity, the third century CE military and economic crises, and modern ideas on Rome's transformation into medieval Europe. Short paper, mid-term and final examinations.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

LIT 101 Introduction to Classical Literature
Jeff Carnes

Introduction to the literature and culture of Archaic and Classical Greece, from the beginnings of Greek literacy down to the fourth century BCE. Examination of literary works in their cultural context, which includes study of the social and intellectual history of the Greek world. Also touches on the influence of Greek civilization on the development of European and North American culture. Authors studied include Homer, Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Plato.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

PHI 391 History of Ethics
Frederick Beiser

Ethical writings of such philosophers as Aristotle, Epictetus, Aurelius, Hume, Butler, Kant, Mill, Sidgwick, Nietzsche, Bradley.

PHI 617 Proseminar: History of Philosophy
Kara Richardson

The topic of the proseminar will be the Principle of Sufficient Reason and related debates about necessitarianism and freedom in the Medieval and Early Modern periods. We will read several authors, but we will focus on Avicenna (d. 1037), Spinoza (d. 1677) and Leibniz (d. 1716).

REL 205 Ancient Greek Religion
Virginia Burrus

Historical and systematic studies of Greek myth and cult (pre-Homeric Chthonic religion through Olympian polytheism to the decline of the polis). Interaction of religion with drama, art, architecture, philosophy, and politics.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

REL 301 Ancient Near Eastern Religions and Cultures
Jim Watts
The ancient Near East produced the oldest written texts in the world, along with much art and other artifacts. They provide a window into the ways of life, rituals, beliefs, hopes and fears of people living 2,500 to 5,000 years ago and illustrate the interplay between religion and human culture in all its various forms. This course will explore the interaction of culture and religion by examining the social contexts of ancient religious ideas and practices through close readings of texts from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine and Israel. The course includes a required field trip to see the Mesopotamian and Egyptian collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 28th. This course is for students interested in ancient history, culture, and religion and wanting to fill Humanities and Writing Intensive core requirements, as well as majors and minors in Religion, Jewish Studies, History, Literature and Art History.

(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)


ARC 433/HOA 439 French Architecture, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Jean-François Bedard

This class traces the French approach to the reinterpretation of antique architecture during the periods commonly known as the Renaissance and the Baroque. We will confront the presuppositions of this periodization in the light of the diversity of phenomena that make French architecture of the early modern era one of the most creative moments in the art of building in the West. Each meeting will focus on the historical, cultural, and intellectual contexts of key buildings and projects, important architects and theorists, and outstanding patrons. Special attention will be devoted to the many different incarnations of architecture, from realized buildings, drawn projects, to written treatises and pattern books. Architectural practice will be related to the larger world of ideas in the arts, the sciences, philosophy, and literature.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

ENG 121 Introduction to Shakespeare
Stephanie Shirilan
Natalie El-Eid

This course offers an intensive introduction to the life and language of arguably the world’s greatest writer, William Shakespeare. This class will focus on two key issues: first, the relation between Shakespeare’s life and his work, and secondly, on the language of his plays and poems. We will become familiar with Shakespeare’s biography, and we will read one work from every dramatic genre in which he wrote—comedy, tragedy, history and romance—, and also perhaps some of the poetry. No previous familiarity with Shakespeare is required, but you do need to be committed to careful and sustained critical reading and analysis as well as active participation in Friday discussion sections. The main goals of this class are to help you read and enjoy Shakespeare, to foster rigorous intellectual engagement his work, and to allow you develop your own critical writing skills.
We will emphasize understanding and engagement with Shakespeare’s language rather than simply its “translation” or the rehearsal of plotlines. Since Shakespeare’s language is what most distinguishes him from his rivals and collaborators—as well as what most embeds him in his own historical moment—this class will take language to be the very heart of Shakespeare’s literary achievement rather than as an obstacle to be circumvented by the reader or audience.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

ENG 313 Race & Literary Periods Before 1900: American Beginnings
Patricia Roylance

When, where and with what does “American literature” begin? At stake in this question are our basic assumptions about what American-ness is, as well as our basic assumptions about what literature is. Who gets to be called an “American” and what counts as “literature”? Should Native American oral stories be part of the canon of American literature? How about the letters from Spanish and French explorers describing the Americas and its peoples? How about William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which takes place on an island obviously inspired by the New World and which voices cutting critiques of colonization through its indigenous character Caliban? This class will place traditionally revered accounts of the British settlements at Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay into the context of a more expansively defined “early America,” encompassing Native America, the colonial Americas (Spanish, French, British and Dutch), and the writers in Europe who were responding to the idea of the New World (new to them, at least).

ENG 321 - Authors before 1900: Chaucer and Contemporaries
Patricia Moody

This course will provide a substantial background for understanding the literature of the late middle ages. The fourteenth century is a vital period, marked by significant changes in major institutions of the time: the court, the church, and the very social structure of late-medieval England. This setting of stress was also the environment in which three remarkable writers, in whose works one can see attempts at creating order in literary, moral, and social senses. Examining the ways in which Chaucer, Gower, and Langland focus their attention on order and decay in the England of their day, the course includes readings representing a wide range of genres from all three writers, as well as from that most prolific of all writers, Anonymous.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

ENG 630 Graduate Proseminar: Early Modern
Stephanie Shirilan

This course provides a point of entry for students interested in early modern texts and the disciplinary history of early modern studies. We will begin with the modern disciplinary invention of the Renaissance in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and will follow the rise and fall of formalisms, criticisms, materialisms and historicisms new and old through the early twenty-first century as we tackle the major generic forms of English Renaissance literature in a European, transatlantic, and global context. A chief concern of the course will be to examine the ways in which the early modern period has been both credited (and discredited) as the parent of modernity. Our discussions will trace the representation of raced, classed, and gendered identities and the concepts of privacy, sovereignty, embodiment, property, liberty, and ecology as these emerge out of the complex interplay between readers and writers of the sixteenth, seventeenth and twentieth/twenty-first centuries . We will read a selection of mainly canonical plays, poems and prose (including but not limited to drama, rhetorical theory, lyric and devotional poetry, spiritual autobiography, sermons) in order to give you a solid grounding and literacy in the field and establish a foundation necessary for evaluating its critical trends and histories.

HOA 105 Arts and Ideas I
Glenn Peers

Visual arts in relation to broader cultural, historical, and intellectual contexts. The course surveys the ancient world to the High Renaissance.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HOA 389/ARC 435 Islamic Architecture
Susan Henderson

Major building traditions of Islam in the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, Turkey, and India elucidated through in-depth examination of major works and principles of architectural, urban, and garden design. Additional work required of graduate students.

HOA 396/SAS 396/ARC 331Art and Architecture of India
Romita Ray Kapoor

Art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent from the Indus Valley Civilization to the present.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

HOA 445 Baroque Art in Southern Europe
Wayne Franits

This course examines developments in painting and in sculpture in Italy and Spain during the seventeenth century. Among those artists to be considered are: Annibale Carracci, Caravaggio, Artemesia Gentileschi, Bernini, and Velazquez. French artists who lived and worked in Rome during this period will also be discussed, principally, Nicolaes Poussin and Claude Lorraine. Issues of style will certainly be considered yet we will simultaneously pursue questions of subject matter and the cultural context of the art in question.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HOA 454 The Architecture of Revolutions
Jean-François Bedard

Survey of European architectural theory and practice from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. Discussion and analysis of major architects, buildings, and architectural treatises, principally from France, England, and Germany. Additional work required of graduate students.

HOA 500 Selected Topics: Cultures of Museums and Exhibition
Glenn Peers

This course aims to examine assumptions many of us have about the work and meaning of museums in our culture, as well as to encourage us to think hard about what we see and experience when we visit museums. It focuses on aspects of collecting and display, on the ethics and principles of acquisition and preservation, and on content and function of collections here on the SU campus and beyond. In doing so, it provides ways of encountering, and of articulating that encounter, with ongoing histories of objects and institutions.

HOA 500 Art & Gender in Middle Ages
Matilde Mateo-Sevilla

The point of departure of this course is that gender is not biological but rather a complex and ever-changing ideology meant to determine human differentiation and interaction. What notions thus informed the gender ideologies of the Middle Ages and how did the language of art express and reinforce them? In order to answer these broad questions, this course will explore a wide range of visual representations of gender differentiation in light of the theological and physiological theories that informed them as well as of the context in which those images were produced and consumed. In the process, you will discover a gender panorama very different from our own, marked by a porous separation of the sacred and the profane, and with fascinating interactions between cross-gendering, religious devotion and erotic desire.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HOA 600 Selected Topics: Caravaggio and His School
Wayne Franits

This seminar will examine the life and work of the famous Italian painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) as well as his influence upon artists of all nationalities, who flocked to Rome in large numbers during the opening decades of the seventeenth century. The latter group, now known as the Caravaggisti, includes such masters as Bartolomeo Manfredi, Jusepe de Ribera, Orazio and Artemisia Gentileschi, Valentin du Boulogne, and Gerrit van Honthorst. The course will consist of lectures, discussions of assigned readings, and seminar reports by its participants. A reading knowledge of French and/or Italian would be helpful for conducting research in connection with the seminar report (and related term paper) though they are NOT REQUIRED.

HOA 620 Seminar: Renaissance Art
Sally Cornelison

The focus of this object-based seminar is Italian paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings that date from c. 1300 to 1600 in the collections of three New York museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, and the Morgan Library & Museum. In addition to studying the history of these collections and the collectors who formed them, students will write catalogue entries and a substantial research paper on specific objects. The class will be supplemented with a weekend field trip to New York to study works in person, meet with museum staff, and where students will deliver short presentations on the objects that are the focus of their research. Enrollment in this seminar is capped at 10 and is required of Florence Program graduate students; interested main campus graduate students are very welcome and should contact the professor for consent to enroll.

(Counts towards the Minor and Renaissance Studies.)

HOM 267 European Music before 1800
Amanda Winkler

Our culture has repurposed the music of the past to serve our own very modern needs. Star producers have transformed chant into New Age soundscapes and even electronic dance music. Bach has been used in multiple film soundtracks to signify evil genius. But what did these musics mean to people when they were originally composed? This course seeks to answer this question through extensive listening, targeted readings, musical analysis, and performance.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 101 American History to 1865
Susan Branson

This introductory course will survey American history from the pre-colonial era to the Civil War. We will approach this period of history through a discussion of three themes. The first covers the period from the founding down to the middle of the eighteenth century and focuses on how Europeans from a medieval culture became Americans. The second theme explores the political, social and economic impact the Revolution had upon American society. And finally, we will focus on the modernization of American society in the nineteenth century and how that modernization was a major factor in causing the sectional crisis.

HST 111 Early Modern Europe, 1350-1815
Junko Takeda

This course covers the history of Europe from the Black Death, which marked the end of the Middle Ages, to the French Revolution – the beginning of the modern world. While it will cover the major events of the period – the Renaissance, the Reformation, the English, French and scientific revolutions, the rise and fall of Napoleon, the growth of the modern state – the emphasis will be on changes in the lives of ordinary men and women. There will be a midsemester, a final, and two short (c. 5 page) papers.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 121 Global History to 1750
George Kallander

This course introduces students to global history from the thirteenth century through 1750 by focusing on social, economic, political, intellectual, and religious developments in major regions of the world: Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Beginning with the Mongol’s Eurasian empire, their transformation of the continent, and the spread of Islamic empires from Central Asia to the Atlantic, it traces the historical patterns of different world regions in the fifteenth century through the trans-Atlantic slave trade and European imperialism. What types of exchanges were facilitated by maritime trade and trade diasporas? How were human interactions with their environment circumscribed by climate change and disease? The latter part of the course looks at global connections and local particularities facilitated by the spread of Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Course themes include empire, disease, environment, slavery, religion, state-formation, and the rise of global trade. Topics will be covered thematically in general chronological order. Lectures will be supplemented by maps, visual materials, music, documentaries and films. All students are required to attend lectures and one discussion a week.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 208 Middle East Since the Rise of Islam
Amy Kallander

This course is an introductory survey of Middle East history from the rise of Islam in the seventh century to 1900. It discusses major empires in Middle East covering topics such as culture and society, science and technology, and women and politics. We will approach the Middle East through the theme of exchange, considering the connections between Southwest Asia and North Africa and neighboring regions, as the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Other prominent themes include multiculturalism, reform, and modernization.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

HST 213 Africa: Ancient Times to 1800
Martin Shanguhyia

The course focuses on the history of African societies from the ancient times to the period before European conquest and colonization of the continent (circa 1850 CE). Themes broadly fall into political, social, cultural, economic, and environmental developments that shaped Africa and its peoples: state formation, indigenous political administrations, trade, migration, economic and cultural production, labor institutions and practices, religious beliefs and practices, to mention a few. Consequently, we seek to answer questions such as: How do we know about Africa’s past? How has Africa and its peoples contributed to world civilization? What important African personalities, events, and institutions defined African history in these early times? In what ways was Africa connected to the outside world? What did Africa and its people give and take, through this global connection?

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 300 Food in Pre-Modern Europe
Samantha Herrick

What did people eat in pre-modern Europe? Then as now, food was more than fuel for the body. It was also a way to celebrate and socialize, to show status and taste, to assert power, and to honor God. By studying how food was grown, bought, cooked, served, and eaten (or thrown away), we will gain insight into the daily life, politics, economy, culture, religion, and tastes of pre-modern Europeans and how these things changed over time.
Each week will feature a combination of lecture and discussion. Grades are based on in-class exams, written assignments, and discussion.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 311 Medieval Civilization
Samantha Herrick

This course explores European civilization from about 800 to about 1200. We will study kings, saints, and villains; faith and violence, love and hatred; ideas and beliefs. Our questions include: how did these people make sense of their world? How did they respond to crisis and opportunity? How did their civilization work? What was life like in medieval Europe? To answer these questions, we will mainly read primary sources that show us what medieval people themselves had to say about their world. Our goal will be to understand the past on its own terms. We will also emphasize the skills of close reading, strong argumentation, and clear expression of ideas.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST 320 Traditional China
Norman Kutcher

In this course we will survey Chinese history from earliest times to the end of the Ming dynasty in 1644. This seemingly remote time witnessed the formation of a complex government and society whose influence extended to much of East Asia. Ranging over the centuries, the class will explore some of the main currents in Chinese political, cultural, social, and intellectual history. These include: Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Legalism as competing and sometimes intersecting philosophies; the imperial system and major changes in its form over time; the changing roles of women in society; popular rebellion and heterodox religion; and the place of science and technology in the Chinese past.
We will read a variety of texts in addition to a concise textbook.
(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

HST/WGS 340 Women in America: 17th Century to the Civil War
Susan Branson

This course examines and analyzes the changing social, economic, and political roles of American women from European settlement to the Civil War. Using primary documents, historical essays, and fiction, we will explore how women's roles and identities have been defined by American society over different historical periods. We will pay particular attention to the ways in which women of diverse races, classes and ethnic groups have either embodied or challenged dominant social norms.

HST 398 Saints and Sinners in the Middle Ages
Albrecht Diem

Quite often the middle ages are regarded as a period with few changes. Concepts as kingship, belief, knighthood, feudalism, or institutions such as the church, monasticism or cities are taken for granted and regarded as the unchangeable constituents of medieval life.
This course aims at training to question these concepts and to develop sensitivity for the silent long- term developments within the medieval worlds – and especially those which have a strong influence on our own collective identity and cultural perceptions. The general theme is the history of medieval morality – as a key to the understanding of the development of medieval cultures and institutions. This topic will be approached from two sides: the function of saints (and their representation in texts) as role models, political agents and keystones for collective identities on the one hand and the development of morality and the techniques of social disciplining and implementation of norms and values in medieval societies on the other hand.
Saints: the cult of relics and relic theft; holy men as role model and as a carrier of other people’s sins; miracles and the perception of the world; pilgrimage; local and national saints; the function of hagiography.
Sinners: the invention of confession; penitentials; the seven deadly sins; sodomy, simony and church reform; discipline and punishment in urban culture; the pastoral revolution after 1215; explosive poverty; sinful priests and pure heretics; the trade in indulgence and the reformatoric response.
The course is designed as a seminar rather than a lecture course. Active participation is expected. Assignments include two papers (one creative paper, one research paper), written assignments on the weekly readings and a midterm exam.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

ITA 300, Love Italian Style
Anne Leone

While many courses have focused on courtly love or erotic love, this course asks instead: where are the boundaries between the categories of ‘romantic’ love if we can call it that, and religious devotion? If we focus only on love in only a literary tradition, what do we miss? Neither today nor in the medieval-renaissance period did people live in isolated literary worlds – they were surrounded by religious iconography, they engaged in devotional practices, immersed in cultures that may have been only partly (if at all) literary. In addition, who shapes and controls the narrative of what love is? If we were to focus mainly on literary representations of love from the medieval period, most if not all of the texts we could read would be written by men. Thus, while being cautious about methodological differences, we investigate different kinds of love as it is represented by male poets and theologians, as well as by female mystics. We pay particular attention to how these categories overlap or break down – placing literary, philosophical and medical texts alongside accounts of mystical vision and experience. Over the course of the semester, we will investigate, among other things: the physiology of love, love as sickness, love as ecstasy, love of Christ, maternal and familial love, courtly love, impossible love, forbidden love, selfish and selfless love, marriage, adultery, earthly love, male and female love, medieval representations of medieval love, caritas, hearts (as relics, literal organs of sensation and as symbols) and mystical union with God. Readings (in English and Italian) will include works by Andrea Capellano, Angela of Foligno, Boccaccio, Catherine of Siena, Dante, Petrarch, Ovid, and others. Discussion in Italian.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

JSP/REL 135 Judaism
Zachary Braiterman

The course provides a broad (but selective) survey of Jewish religious thought and practice from the biblical period through the modern. Readings focus on the way diverse Jewish thinkers have reshaped Jewish identity by reconfiguring the way in which they understand ritual life. We pay particular attention to how Jewish interpreters have constructed a changing textual tradition as an integral part of that process. This class introduces students to the Hebrew Bible, Talmud and Midrash, medieval philosophy and mysticism, and to German Jewish existentialism and American Jewish feminism in the 20th century. Special note is paid to the modern period and the role of women.

LIT 241 Dante and the Medieval World
Anne Leone

In this course, we engage in selected readings from the works of Dante (1265-1321), with a focus on his influential masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, which depicts the author’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, towards his own (and his readers’) salvation. We focus on a number of meaningful tensions built into the Comedy's architecture: written for an Everyman and at the same time intensely personal, it depicts a terrifying system of punishment in Hell, yet a universe in which God is Love. The poem challenges the limits of Christian doctrine (placing Popes in Hell; following a pagan poet as his guide; using his beloved Beatrice as a figure for Christ); yet at the same time he believes passionately that he is a vessel for the Word of God.
As Dante’s works comprise a virtuosic synthesis of diverse literary, philosophical, scientific and theological traditions ranging from classical antiquity to the author’s day, they invite the reader to investigate what sources influenced them. For this reason, each lecture will point the reader towards texts in other disciplinary traditions, including passages from the Bible; works of medieval theology, philosophy and religious practice (Aquinas, Augustine, Francis, accounts of popular devotion and ritual, etc.); religious iconography (Giotto, Cimabue); passages from the Latin epic tradition (Lucan’s Pharsalia, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Statius’ Thebaid, Virgil’s Aeneid); and to the scientific tradition (with particular attention to the works of Aristotle and theories about the functioning of the human body and soul.)
By investigating the way in which the poem constructs its world, readers may begin to discover both the powers and the limitations of their own knowledge. Can we begin to understand medieval culture through the lens of this monumental work, or does the poem show us the limits of our understanding? In addition to lectures and discussions on the text, students will be asked to engage with the text through performance, recitation and other creative mediums. All readings are in English/ English translation, but students are welcome to refer to the Italian/Latin originals if they wish.

(Counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

MES/REL/SAS 165 Discovering Islam
Ahmed Abdel Meguid
Tazim Kassam

This course is a basic introduction to Islam, the faith of over one-fifth of the world’s population. Topics will include: the life and times of Islam’s founder, Prophet Muhammad; central themes in the Qur'an, the sacred scripture of Muslims; the remembered customs and traditions of the prophet; the basics of Islamic rituals and law; the veil and status of Muslim women; and the differences between the three main interpretations of Islam – Sunni, Shi'a and Sufi.
(May count towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

REL 156 Christianity
Marcia Robinson

This course covers Christianity’s institutional forms, sacred writings, ideas and beliefs, worship practices, cultural and creative expressions, and ethical and political roles in society, from antiquity to the present. In covering these things, this course basically asks what Christianity has to do with being human. That is, how does Christianity address human needs, concerns, and desires? What are some of the problems that Christianity has caused believers and non-believers? And, why, in spite of its problems, does it remain appealing and viable to a broad array of people over centuries and across cultures?
(May count towards the Major in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

REL/SAS 185 Hinduism
Mallory Hennigar

This course introduces Hindu traditions and practices. Our strategy is to move between cosmological, theological and philosophical understandings, and the ways these motivate ordinary and extraordinary human lives. We see these understandings expressed through myth and moral teachings, storytelling and poetry, ritual and devotion. Thus our syllabus materials include some classic texts and teachings of ancient Indian civilization and more recent poetry, tales and ethnographic descriptions. Throughout the course we remain interested in contemporary Indian society where Hinduism's many streams of thought have ongoing significance.

REL/SAS 186 Buddhism
Sara Ann Swenson

Buddhism as a world religion: its origin in India, its spread to other parts of Asia, and consequent changes in doctrine and practice through the ages.


ARB 101 - Arabic I
ARB 201 - Arabic III
ARB 301 - Arabic V

ARB 426 - Structure of Standard Arabic
Rania Habib

This course offers a description of the structure of Standard Arabic. It deals with the phonology (sounds and letters), morphology (word parts/constituents), and syntax (sentence structure: how words form sentences) of Standard Arabic. Semantics (meaning of words, parts of words, and sentences) will be touched on when discussing the other three main aspects of the language. It also touches on social and historical issues related to the development of the Arabic language. Knowledge of Arabic is not a requirement.

GRE 101 Ancient Greek I
Jeff Carnes

Greek 101 is a beginning course whose goal is the acquisition of reading knowledge of Ancient Greek. By the end of the year students will have mastered the basic grammatical structures of the language and will have a vocabulary of several hundred words. Since Ancient Greek is no longer a "living" language (i.e., there are no native speakers), the emphasis in the course is necessarily on reading. We do, however, make extensive use of oral and written exercises as an aid to the acquisition of reading knowledge. In addition, we devote time to the study of Greek culture (social, historical, and literary) via supplemental readings of both primary and secondary sources.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor.)

GRE 310 Greek Prose Authors
Jeff Carnes

Readings from Herodotus and Plato; prerequisite GRE 102 or equivalent.

GRE 620 - Language Training in Preparation for Research Using Greek
Jeff Carnes

HEB 101 - Hebrew I
Michael Downie

HEB 201 - Hebrew III
Erella Brown Sofer

HEB 620 - Language Training in Preparation for Research Using Hebrew
Michael Downie

LAT 101 - Latin I
Matthieu van der Meer

Introduction to a language that served a tiny village on the Tiber River in Italy, then a massive empire that reached from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, from Scotland and Germany to Morocco and Sudan. Long after it ceased to be spoken, it served Europe as the international language of diplomacy, education, and professional skills, such as law, medicine, science, and theology into modern times. The Latin language will open your eyes to elements of world culture and history, increase your social, philosophical, and artistic understanding, and reveal the roots of language itself, including your own native language, whatever that may be.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

LAT 201 - Latin III
Matthieu van der Meer

This course will continue your introduction to a language that served a tiny village on the Tiber River in Italy, then a massive empire that reached from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, from Scotland and Germany to Morocco and Sudan. After the disappearance of the Roman Empire, it continued to serve Europe as the international language of diplomacy, education, and professional skills, such as law, medicine, science, and theology into modern times. The Latin language will open your eyes to elements of world culture and history, social, philosophical, and artistic understanding, and the roots of language itself, including your own native language, whatever that may be. In this course we’ll conclude our tour through Oerberg’s 'Lingua Latina per se illustrata' and move from there into selected readings (original or adapted) from various classical Roman authors (Caesar, Livy, Virgil). Our classes will for a significant part be conducted in Latin. The primary goal of this class is to enable you to actively use Latin, more than remaining a passive recipient.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.)

LAT 310 - Latin Prose Authors
Matthieu van der Meer

Acquisition of the skill to independently read and understand the classical Latin prose authors. Focus on the Catilinarian revolt as found in Sallust and Cicero. Training in ability to recognize their individual styles and rhetorical techniques.
(Counts towards the Classical Civilization Major and Minor and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.)

LAT 620 - Language Training in Preparation for Research Using Latin
Matthieu van der Meer