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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Medieval Renaissance Courses: Medieval Renaissance/Early Modern Studies

Spring 2021

Linked course titles have extended descriptions. Syllabi provided where available.
Course Title Day Time Instructor Room Syllabus Description
JSP/REL 114 The Bible in History, Culture and Religion TuTh 3:30-4:50 Watts ONLINE SYNC The Bible has been the most widely read literature in Western culture. It has influenced literature, law and politics as well as religious traditions. This survey of Jewish and Christian scriptures in English translation pays particular attention to the literary form of biblical books, their origins and original ancient Near Eastern and Hellenistic contexts, and their role in the development of Western religions and cultures.
ARC 133 Introduction to the History of Architecture I MoWe 3:45-5:05 Bédard ONLINE SYNC Themes, concepts, and problems in architectural history from ancient Egypt to 1500. The first part of a two-course sequence that serves as an introduction to a global history of architecture, this class begins with the monumental architecture of Ancient Egypt and ends around 1500 CE, a period which saw the waning of the Middle Ages in Europe. ARC 133 focuses in particular on architecture defined as the “art of building,” distinct from functional shelters or vernacular structures. Special attention is placed on the theoretical notions that ground this distinction—issues such as ritualistic use, transcendental geometry and proportion, symbolic ornament—elements that link architecture to other sciences and arts in a common pre-modern “world-view.” This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
REL/MES 165 Discovering Islam Kassam ONLINE ASYNC Islam as a faith and a civilization. Understanding its origins, beliefs, rituals, and the historical development of its intellectual traditions in the pre-modern and modern eras, and its geographic, cultural and theological diversity today.
ENG 175 World Literature, 1000 to Present TuTh 2:00-3:20 Teres ONLINE SYNC Readings from major texts of the second millennium from Africa, Europe, Latin America, India, China, and Japan. Texts are explored in historical context, both past and present, with an emphasis on social and aesthetic values.
REL 186 Buddhism MoWe 10:35-11:30 Fisher IN PERSON Buddhism as a world religion: its origin in India, its spread to other parts of Asia, and conse-quent changes in doctrine and practice through the ages.
LIT 200 Afterlives: from Dante to The Good Place TuTh 12:30-1:50 Leone ONLINE SYNC Is there life after death? This course explores afterlives in literature, film and TV shows from the Middle Ages to the present, asking: what constitutes the afterlife? Must it be located beyond our world – like heaven, hell or purgatory? Or may it include afterlives in this world – belief in ghosts, or in reincarnation; pursuits of artistic or literary immortality; representations of the undead? And, what do ideas about afterlives give us: comfort; explanations for unknowable things; threats of punishment? Readings and discussions in English, with the option to read texts in the original language (Italian, Latin). This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
HST 200 The Early Modern and Modern Indian Ocean World TuTh 2:00-3:20 Bouril IN PERSON This course examines the history of the Indian Ocean World from the fifteenth century to the present. It focuses on the connections and networks that united societies around the ocean’s coasts, including those in Eastern Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and elsewhere. This course will show how climate, trade, religion, migration, and cultural exchange brought societies to-gether in unique and important ways. The course will highlight the economic importance of In-dian Ocean World societies to early modern and modern globalization, consider questions of identity in history, and look at the influence and limits of empire. It will also look at the broad changes and importance of the Indian Ocean World in twentieth-century global events, such as the World Wars, nationalism, decolonization, the Cold War, and Climate Change.
HST 211 Medieval and Renaissance Europe MoWe 11:40-12:35 Herrick ONLINE SYNC This introductory survey traces Europe’s transformation during the Middle Ages and Renais-sance, from roughly 300 CE to roughly 1500 CE. It begins as the Roman Empire slowly gave way to new societies in both East and West, and then follows the fortunes of these societies over more than 1000 years. It explores the religious, political, economic, social, cultural, intellectual, and artistic aspects of these societies and how they changed over time. Readings will include both primary sources (those written at the time) and secondary sources (by modern scholars). Students will learn to analyze these sources in order to find out what happened in this period, how people understood events, and how historians use evidence to explain the past. Requirements include reading and participation, midterm and final exams, and two papers. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HST 213 Africa: Ancient Times to 1800 Shanguhyia ONLINE ASYNC This course is a survey of pre-modern African history, presenting an overview of the main themes and chronology of the development of African culture and society. It provides an exposition of the regional and continental diversity and unity in African political, economic, social and cultural histories with special emphasis on major African civilizations, processes of state formation, encounters with the Euro-Asia world, Africa’s role in the international Trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean and Atlantic trades, ecology, and urbanization.
JSP/REL 300 Rabbinic Sex Stories in Talmud TuTh 3:30-4:50 Schwartz ONLINE SYNC Do rabbis have sex? Is knowledge erotic? And what is “Talmud”? This course will explore these questions in relation to the rabbis of late antiquity (200-700 CE) through narratives, ethno-graphic accounts and stories about rabbinic sex in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. To-gether, these Talmuds are some of the primary corpuses of rabbinic Judaism. Through this class, you will learn to expand the definition of what constitutes “sex” or “desire” by examining ancient rabbinic forms of gendered, sexual and bodily knowledge. Students will learn to be-come curious about bodily norms that are quite removed from the contemporary worlds that we inhabit. The course will also open up possibilities of connection across the vast time differ-ences of the ancient and contemporary. This is a deep-reading, discussion-based course. It will provide students with an opportunity to learn how to read rabbinic texts in translation, and to generate conversational learning through Jewish textual practices like questioning and part-nered study, also known as hevruta. We will focus our attention continuously and deeply on a few key rabbinic texts, plumbing the many layers of rabbinic literature and the dynamic quality of their interpretive possibilities.
HST 300 Queen Elizabeth I: Image and Reality TuTh 11:00-12:20 Kyle ONLINE SYNC Elizabeth I: Cultural icon? Virgin queen? ‘Father/Mother’ of the nation? This course will examine the images, personality, words and actions of one of the most important monarchs in Eng-lish history. How did Elizabeth manage to negotiate her rule of a patriarchal society as a ‘weak-willed woman’? Did she exploit her considerable political skills to benefit the country or simply to maintain her position on the throne? And what of those who sort to assassinate or replace her? How did she react to threats of foreign invasion, domestic rebellion and a barely concerned hostility among many in the governing classes? Using both early modern and modern iconography, we will explore the images and representations of Elizabeth to unravel her life and examine how she sought to portray herself and how others have seen her through the years. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
HST 300 Atlantic World: Rum, Smoke & Steel MoWe 12:45-2:05 Murphy IN PERSON How different might the world we live in today be if the ‘Atlantic World’ had not come into being? This course explores the long-term cross-cultural interactions and exchanges that shaped the Americas, Europe, and Africa from approximately 1450 until 1804. Conceiving of the Atlantic Ocean as an area of economic, political, cultural, and environmental interaction, we will trace the rise and circulation of commodities such as tobacco, rum, and sugar; the evolution of ideologies surrounding governance, trade, and equality; and the free and forced movement of peoples around the Atlantic basin. Rather than focusing on a particular empire or single part of the Atlantic World, our emphasis is on the emergence of ‘things’—whether commodities, cultures, or ideas—that are now so engrained in our everyday lives that we may give little thought to their historical origins and evolution. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
HST 310 The Early Middle Ages MoWe 2:15-3:35 Diem IN PERSON This course provides a survey of the most important political, cultural and social developments in the period between 300 and 900, or roughly between the reign of Constantine and end of the rule of the Carolingian kings, mostly focusing on Western Europe. In this period falls one of the most dramatic historical breaks: the “Fall of the Roman Empire” and the “Beginning of the Middle Ages.” But was there really a “Fall of the Roman Empire?” When, how and why did the Roman Empire come to an end? This still ferociously debated question will play a central role in the course. Other topics will be the rise of Christianity, the development of medieval institu-tions (such as kingship, church structures, and feudalism), and the continuity and discontinuity of intellectual traditions. A special emphasis will be laid on reading and interpreting (translat-ed) primary sources and on methods of historical research. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HOA 320 Italian Renaissance Art TuTh 3:30-4:50 Cornelison ONLINE SYNC Survey of Italian art and architecture from c. 1200 to 1550 with an emphasis on style, patron-age, artistic techniques, and the social, political, and devotional contexts of works by major artists and architects. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
LIT/ARB/MES 336 Arabic Cultures TuTh 3:30-4:50 TBD ONLINE SYNC Arabic culture through geography, literature, religion (Islam and other religions), ethnic groups, social divisions, films, the media, music, art, food, gender issues, and everyday life.
ENG 340 Shakespeare in the age of Covid-19 MoWe 3:45-5:05 Shirilan ONLINE SYNC Like many aspects of public debate surrounding Covid-19, the conversation surrounding the closing of the theaters last March has simultaneously emphasized the “unprecedented” nature of the crisis and compared the present pandemic to plagues of the past. Both gestures perform rhetorical work that this course will seek to unfold. We will be aided in so doing by Shake-speare’s own reflections upon the politics of representing and responding to calamity. This course will focus on two key aims: to examine plague and other airborne diseases as contexts for the representation of the risks and rewards of theater (and other forms of gathering) in Shakespeare’s plays; and to consider how these same themes and concerns might be reanimat-ed in the light of Covid-19, its associated ecological, economic, and political crises and the re-sponses to such. In addition to our close and slow reading of three to four plays, we will reflect on the rapid development of new and hybrid forms of theatrical production and performance, examining some of the emerging modes and media through which various artists and audiences have sought to “do” Shakespeare under pandemic constraints. We will consider how dis-tance, asynchrony, “distraction,” and technological limitation are generating new ways of think-ing about of time, attention, mediation, and presence in the plays, the theater, and human experience more broadly. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HST 355 The Italian Renaissance TuTh 9:30-10:50 Brege IN PERSON This course examines the civilization that developed in the states of northern and central Italy between 1300 and 1520 and the concept of the Renaissance itself. The course is divided into three parts. The first part examines Renaissance Italy as the birthplace of modern republican-ism. In this part of the course we examine the republics of Florence and Venice and the art and ideology which accompanied those regimes. The second part of the course explores the social history of Renaissance Italy (women, family, and sexuality) and the social significance of Re-naissance art. The third part of the course looks at Renaissance Italy as the originator of the court system which dominated Europe until the time of the French Revolution. Here much con-sideration is given to the creation of an aristocratic style of life and princely art. The goal of the course is for students to understand not only the Renaissance itself but also the ways in which historians have interpreted the Renaissance to fit their vision of the world. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HST 357 Early Modern England TuTh 2:00-3:20 Kyle ONLINE SYNC This course examines the political, cultural and social history of Early Modern England. Topics covered will include the power and image of the monarchy (cases studies - Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Charles I); the role of the printing press in both ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture; the impact of crime and the treatment of criminals; the importance of London as a center of commerce and culture; the myth and reality of Shakespeare and the role of the theater; witchcraft and the dominance of religion in everyday life; and the role of women in a patriarchal society. The course will emphasize reading, discussion, visual culture and the use of primary sources. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HST 373 The Crusades MoWe 2:15-3:35 Herrick ONLINE SYNC Starting in 1095, Christian armies from Western Europe attacked groups they viewed as their religious enemies. These campaigns took place in what is now the Middle East, but also within Europe itself. By studying these campaigns, this course explores what the crusades were, why people fought them, and how they justified violence in the name of religion. In particular, the course investigates the ways in which crusaders dehumanized their enemies and depicted their own violent acts as holy. Students will read and analyze primary sources (those written at the time) in order to learn what happened and to explain how it happened. We will also consider the significance and legacy of these wars. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
FRE 405 French Culture in Age of Louis XIV TuTh 12:30-1:50 Wyngaard ONLINE SYNC Study of French literature, aesthetics and culture of absolutism. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
ENG 406 The Supernatural in Medieval Literature TuTh 2:00-3:20 Moody ONLINE SYNC This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
ENG 411 Forms and Genres before 1900: Reading, Breathing Shakespeare MoWe 12:45-2:05 Shirilan ONLINE SYNC Acting and voice coaches have written extensively about breathing Shakespeare’s language, finding its poetry and the power of its rhythms in the “breath” of the line. What does this mean for students of literature? We will read from acting and voice pedagogy alongside classical rhetorical/oratorical treatises (that Shakespeare most certainly studied in grammar school) in order to consider what a focus on reading and breathing affords the literary, historical, and theo-retical study of Shakespeare. How does reading aloud change our relationship to the plays in performance, in “private” reading, in the classroom, and in the “archive”? What becomes clearer and more accessible? What becomes more opaque and difficult? How might we observe Shakespeare’s experience as an actor in the attention he gives to the management of the breath both structurally and thematically? We will read fewer plays slowly so as to experiment with reading and performance techniques together in and outside of class. Non-traditional, pedagogical and performance-based, para-academic assignment options will be available for all students but may be customized to enhance the experiences of VPA/Drama and Education Majors. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HOA 412 From Gothic to Goth TuTh 5:00-6:20 Mateo-Sevilla ONLINE SYNC Although the “Gothic” was invented in Europe in the Middle Ages, its life was prolonged well beyond its original context, embracing, through the centuries, such disparate phenomenona as an architectural language, literary and film genres, and an underground pop culture. No doubt, the Gothic has been one of the most enduring and spellbinding artistic languages of all times. Why this has been the case is the subject of this course. The main lines of inquiry will be what do we mean by the term “Gothic”, how do we recognize it as such, and why people have been and still are drawn to it. This course will invite you to join in a journey of exploration of the source of its appeal, hoping it will help you to better understand the complexities of this enigmatic style. This will be done in two major stages. First, you will look at the Gothic through the eyes of successive past generations, who will unveil for you the different aspects of the Gothic that they “discovered” and enthused about, such as its sublime horrifying allure, its picturesque charm, its capacity to inspire religious spirituality, its ingenious engineering, or its fabulous potential to embody national, social or political ideals, as well as definitions of personal identity. Second, you will be challenged to look at the Gothic with your own eyes and those of your peers by means of an in-depth study of an specific Gothic object of your choice, which will be later presented and discussed in class. The course will be interdisciplinary, dealing with architecture, aesthetics, religion, art theory, history, literature , film, fashion, and historiography. The temporal frame is from the late Middle Ages to the present. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
ITA 412 Boccaccio's Decameron TuTh 3:30-4:50 Leone ONLINE SYNC During the plague of 1348 in Florence, seven ladies and three young men seek refuge outside the city. For ten days, they tell stories to pass the time. Their game frames Giovanni Boccac-cio’s Decameron – 100 novellas comprising a masterpiece of medieval literature, which influenced Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and many other works. With particular attention to historical context and literary form, this course engages with the text through close readings (in Italian and English) as well as discussion (in Italian). This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HOA 440 Women in Art TuTh 12:30-1:50 Cornelison ONLINE SYNC Representation of women in art from prehistoric to contemporary times and the works of women artists in historical contexts.
HOA 479 Early Modern Architecture MoWe 12:45-2:05 Henderson ONLINE SYNC Early modern architecture from the 1890s through the 1930s. Additional work required of graduate students.
HOA 500 Selected Topics: Paper Arts of the Low Countries TuTh 2:00-3:20 Franits IN PERSON This interdisciplinary seminar will examine the production of drawings and prints, mainly in the Netherlands (Holland) and Flanders (modern-day Belgium) from circa 1500 to circa 1700. The course will survey the works on paper of such important artists as Hieronymus Bosch, Lucas van Leyden, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hendrick Goltzius, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, and Anthony van Dyck. Pandemic permitting, we will also visit the Johnson Museum at Cornell University to view highlights of its outstanding paper art collection. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
HOA 512 Islamic Palaces of Spain: from Past to Present Weds 2:15-5:00 Mateo-Sevilla ONLINE SYNC The Alhambra is an unusual and complex monument that challenges historiographical categories such as "Islamic," "architecture," "authenticity," and "historic monument," among others. Built in Granada, Spain, during the 13th and 14th centuries, it contains several palaces that have rightly occupied a place of honor in the history of architecture because of their magnificent courtyards, spectacular domes, and luscious gardens. But the afterlife of the Alhambra is equally fascinating and worthy of attention, if not more. For this reason, the course is divided into two distinct but interrelated halves. The first part of the semester will examine the Alhambra's design as it was originally intended. More specifically, it will explore its emphasis on geometry, water features, gardens, inscriptions, and poetry on its walls, in order to understand the Alhambra's meaning and experience for medieval Muslim and Christian visitors. During the second half of the semester, the focus will shift to the Alhambra's afterlife with particular attention to three questions that will explore its changing meaning, identity, and physical appearance. First, how was it transformed into an orientalist fantasy in artistic and literary depictions? Second, how was it re-created through restorations, replicas all over the world, and tourist souvenirs? And last, how does its contested ownership and identity as a Spanish, Maghebri, Islamic, and world heritage monument, relate to the complex relationship of the western and Islamic worlds?