Fall 2009 Graduate Courses
(as of 4-14-09)
MI 60001 - Introduction to Medieval Studies I
A one-credit-hour course designed to introduce students to the basic bibliographies, handbooks, and research tools in medieval studies. Professors from various disciplines will participate.
MI 60003 - Introduction to Christian Latin
Bloomer, W. Martin
This course has two goals: to improve the student’s all-around facility in dealing with Latin texts and to introduce the student to the varieties of Christian Latin texts and basic resources that aid in their study. Exposure to texts will be provided through common readings that will advance in the course of the semester from the less to the more demanding and will include Latin versions of Scripture, exegesis, homiletic, texts dealing with religious life, formal theological texts, and Christian Latin poetry. Philological study of these texts will be supplemented by regular exercises in Latin composition.
MI 60110 - Old English
Training in reading the Old English language and study of the literature written in Old English.
MI 60119 - Old English: The Exeter Book
The Exeter Book is the largest collection of Old English poetry to survive in a single manuscript, a tenth-century anthology containing some of the best-known poems in Old English (The Wanderer, The Seafarer, Deor, the Exeter Book Riddles) as well as others drawn from multiple literary traditions. We will read as much of this poetry as we can set against the background of the shaping events and concerns of tenth-century England, especially those set in motion by the Benedictine Reform and by contemporary developments in Anglo-Latin and Hiberno-Latin literature and Old English prose. A secondary goal of the course will be to introduce students to methods of research in several of the disciplines essential to the study of Old English poetry, including the liturgy, hagiography, eschatology, cosmology, biblical exegesis, mythology, and folklore of the early medieval West.
MI 60152 – Langland and Allegory
This course will examine concepts and uses of allegory, focusing primarily on the seminal yet difficult poem, Piers Plowman. Though a significant amount of time will be spent deciphering Langland’s 14th-century work, our focus will always consider the larger implications of Langland’s writing for our understanding of literary history and allegorical writing more broadly conceived. Comparisons to allegorical writings by other writers and from other periods will be encouraged.
MI 60199 - Introduction to Middle English Manuscript Studies
This course will examine the culture of the book in late medieval English, including the important literary writers who made it a national literary language, the scribes who transmitted and often transformed their works, and the wide range of readers they reached. Among the writers to be studied will be Julian of Norwich, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, the Gawain Poet, Thomas Hoccleve, Margery Kempe, and James I of Scotland; among the topics to be discussed: literacy, book illustration, marginalia, social conditions of authorship, the rise of heresy, women and book production, nun’s libraries, patronage, household books, religious and political trends, and attempts at official censorship. Students will also learn both editorial theory and practice, and have a chance to transcribe and edit for publication in a forthcoming anthology of Middle English writings restored to their manuscript context.
MI 60293 - History of Optics
This course concerns the history of optics from antiquity to the early modern period. The term “optics” will be taken in the broadest possible sense. As well as studying mathematical optics, catoptrics (mirrors, plane and curved), dioptrics (refraction) and related disciplines through history, we will also look at such subjects as: illusion and “natural magic;” theories of perception and philosophies of light; the technology of lenses and mirrors and their uses; astrology, natural philosophy and theories of radial influence; optics as a paradigmatic example of both continuity and revolutionary change in the development of science; modern scholarship on the changing role of the observer.
MI 60362 - Hermeneutics, Deconstruction, and Medieval Thought
The aims of this course are both methodological and historical. The methodological part will consist of an introduction to hermeneutics (in a broad sense) as theorized and/or practiced in certain areas of modern continental philosophy. After a brief look at the crucial innovations of Husserl, we shall study carefully chosen extracts (in English translation) of Heidegger: Being and Time and What is Called Thinking, Gadamer: Truth and Method, and Derrida: Of Grammatology, Writing and Difference, Dissemination in order to illuminate the different (even opposing) ways in which the idea of “hermeneutics” can develop. This general discussion will be combined with specific consideration of the themes of allegory and negativity. The historical part of the course will concentrate on late ancient, patristic, and early medieval readings (Origen: On First Principles, Augustine: On Christian Teaching, Literal Interpretation of Genesis, Proclus: Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus). Here, we shall attempt to advance our comprehension of ancient literature by 1. looking for parallels with modern hermeneutic techniques, 2. applying the modern techniques in test cases. The course is intended to be relatively open-ended, i.e., students will be expected to think about the way in which these discussions are internally coherent and also relate to their own areas of interest (which may be elsewhere in philosophy, theology, or literature (Latin or vernacular)). Requirement: one final essay of ca. 20 pp.
MI 60369 - Medieval Negative Theology
The course will begin by examining the historical background in ancient and later ancient philosophy (Plato, the Neopythagoreans, the Neoplatonists) of the theological and philosophical method which later became known as “negative theology.” Having extracted a kind of definition from the historical survey, we will look at four major figures of the early Christian and medieval periods in greater detail, reading selected works or parts of works in English translation but also paying attention to the original Latin (or Greek). The authors and works will be: 1. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (On Divine Names, On Mystical Theology, On the Celestial Hierarchy), 2. Iohannes Scottus Eriugena (Periphyseon, books I-III), 3. Meister Eckhart (Parisian Questions, selections from biblical commentaries, selected German and Latin sermons), 4. Nicholas of Cusa (On Learned Ignorance, books I-II, On the Vision of God). The last part of the course will consist of a brief survey of the many other medieval writers who used the negative method, and also some notes on its influence in the Renaissance and later times. Knowledge of Latin will be useful but not necessary for the course. Written requirement: one final paper of ca. 20 pp.
MI 60400 - Early Christianity: Introduction
This course provides an introduction to the history and thought of the first 500 years of the Christian church. The approach taken will be largely that of social history: we will try to discover not only the background and context of the major theological debates but also the shape and preoccupations of “ordinary” Christian life in Late Antiquity. Topics to be studied will therefore include canon formation, martyrdom, asceticism, Donatism, Arianism, and Pelagianism. The class will stress the close reading of primary texts. Requirements include class participation, a final examination, the memorization of a few important dates and places, and two papers, one of which will be an exercise in the close reading of an additional primary source and the other and exploration of early Christian exegesis.
MI 60491 - The Holy Land
This course will investigate the manner in which Christians and Muslims through the centuries have understood the religious dimension of Palestine, and of Jerusalem in particular. In the first section of the course we will analyze classical religious texts, including: the New Testament prophecies of Jerusalem’s destruction; the narratives surrounding Saint Helen’s recovery of the true Cross and sacred relics; the traditions of Muhammad’s night journey to Jerusalem, and Muslim narratives on the conquest of Palestine and the construction of the Dome of the Rock. In the second section of the course we will turn to the memories and visions of individual believers, such as the descriptions of medieval Muslim geographers, the travelogues of European Christian pilgrims, the writings of Eastern Orthodox monks of the Palestinian desert, and the popular religious pamphlets and web sites of the Muslim and Christian faithful today.
MI 60534 - Visions and Miracles: Religious Literature in Medieval France
This course is designed to be an introduction to the religious literature of medieval France. In addition to overtly religious works like saints’ lives and miracles of the Virgin, we will also read secular works that deal with religious themes (La Chanson de Roland, the Conte du Graal (Perceval) by Chretien de Troyes, La Quete du saint Graal). One of the themes of the course will be the overlap between sacred and secular, and the appropriation of secular genres by religious writers. Other readings will include French versions of Bible stories, poetry of the troubadours and trouvères, selections from the Miracles Nostre Dame of Gautier de Coinci and from the Golden Legend, poems by Christine de Pizan, Guillaume de Machaut, and François Villon. Reading knowledge of modern French is essential. Depending on the will of the class, discussions will be either in French or in English, but class presentations and the research paper (ca. 18 pages) may be in either language.
MI 60552 - Dante I
An in-depth study, over two semesters, of the entire Comedy, in its historical, philosophical, and literary context, with selected reading from the minor works (e.g., Vita Nuova, Convivio, De vulgari eloquentia). Lectures and discussion in English; the text will be read in the original with facing-page translation. Students may take one semester or both, in either order.
MI 60609 - Reading and Writing Latin Prose
This second-year language course continues the review of grammar begun in CLLA 20003 and introduces students to stylistic analysis through close readings of Latin prose authors such as Cicero and the younger Pliny. A special feature of the course is that students learn to write classical Latin for themselves.
MI 60612 - The History of Latin
This course will examine the phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and stylistic development of the Latin language from Proto-Italic to early medieval Latin. Analysis of sample texts will alternate with discussion of relevant topics, which will include the principles of historical and comparative linguistics, Latin and its sister languages, the creation of the Latin inflectional system, the varieties of classical Latin, the development of Latin poetics and metrics, and the influence of Greek on Latin.
MI 60680 - Medieval German Literature
This course constitutes a survey of German literature from its beginnings during Germanic times until the sixteenth century. Ideas, issues, and topics are discussed in such a way that their continuity can be seen throughout the centuries. Lectures and discussions are in German, but individual students’ language abilities are taken into consideration. Readings include modern German selections from major medieval authors and works such as Hildebrandslied, Rolandslied, Nibelungenlied, Iwein, Parzival, Tristan, courtly lyric poetry, the German mystics, secular and religious medieval drama, Der Ackermann aus Bohmen, and the beast epic Reineke Fuchs. Class discussions and brief presentations in German by students on the selections are intended as an opportunity for stimulating exchange and formal use of German.
MI 60758 - Kingdom, Empire, and Devotion
Although the Anglo-Saxon kingdom and Ottonian Empire overlap in time during the 10th and 11th centuries, the images and objects produced by both cultures manifest the different political, social, and religious identities being deliberately constructed. By the mid-11th century, the Normans had invaded England, the Salian emperors had succeeded the Ottonians, and European art is more cohesively and problematically labeled as Romanesque. This class will examine Anglo-Saxon and Ottonian art as individual visual traditions and trace their impact on images, objects, and monuments of the more loosely defined Romanesque era.
MI 63202 - Proseminar: The High Middle Ages
Van Engen, John
This course is designed to introduce students to major topics under discussion in the history of the high and later middle ages, roughly the years 1100-1400. Among the topics to be treated, with the historians now at work on them, are: law, government, and literacy; the church as an institutional and cultural force; social class and mobility as economic realities and cultural images; the university in society and culture; and the cultivation of the human person in literary sensibility and religious devotion. Most of the course will consist of intensive secondary readings, with regular written reports, occasional primary readings, and a major bibliographical paper at the end.
MI 63223 - Carolingian History
Proceeding thematically, this course will introduce students to classic works as well as exciting recent scholarship on Carolingian Europe. Weekly sessions will involve the discussion of both modern studies and primary sources (some in Latin). Students will occasionally lead discussions, write a series of critical reviews, and prepare a take-home final examination.
MI 63344 - Aquinas and Dualism
An examination of the role of various dualisms concerning human nature, the soul, and the mind in the thought of Aquinas. These will mainly be considered from a historical and textual point of view, that is, reading the arguments in their context, with a discussion in particular of the Augustinian Aristotelian background for the issues. But, time permitting, a discussion of the relation of Aquinas’ position(s) to contemporary discussions of mind/body dualisms, and recent efforts to situate Aquinas with regard to those discussions.
MI 63366 - History of the Philosophy of Science to 1750
Focus on Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton, Vico, Whewell, and Poincar. The connections between theory of science and epistemology will be emphasized, as will the influence of metaphysics upon the origins of science.
MI 63450 - John of the Cross: Theological Inquiry
This course explores from theological perspectives the writings of John of the Cross (1542-91), poet, mystic, saint, and doctor of the church. Theologians like Karl Rahner have discovered the relevance for theology of the mystical tradition. Following such leads, we shall investigate the texts of this Spanish Carmelite as loci theologici, that is, as places or matter for theological reflection. The course will trace various theological themes in the writings of John of the Cross, e.g., John’s use of scripture especially his use of the Song of Song’s tradition.; Trinitarian, Christological, and Pneumatological perspectives; grace, freedom, creation, apophatic/kataphatic character of these texts; the question of whether John is a Thomist or an Augustinian; the primacy of John’s poetry and the relevance of this poetry for theology. We shall also examine Bernard McGinn’s proposal for studying mysticism from the perspectives of the categories of presence and consciousness. Sharing one’s research into John of the Cross’s texts will be a feature of the ongoing seminar’s meetings, with a class presentation near the end of the semester. This sharing will focus on one’s selection of a theological theme for a final paper. Periodic reports on one’s research and a mid-semester outline of one’s work will be shared with the professor who will be available for ongoing consultation.
MI 63492 - Letters in Early Christianity
The exchange of letters, an established literary practice in Late Antiquity, became extremely important in fourth-century Christianity. This course examines the conventions of letter-writing, kinds of social connections among correspondents, and the use of letters to promote friendships and associations, and to advance theological discussions. Selected examples will be translated and discussed in the seminar.
MI 63563 - Boccaccio
A textual analysis of the Decameron, with emphasis on structure and themes. Different critical approaches will be used in the analysis of individual tales, their relationships to the frames, and their reflection on Boccacio’s society.
MI 63638 - Augustine: Selected Readings
In this course, we will read select passages from Augustine’s earliest extant works, the so-called Cassiciacum dialogues. Augustine spent the winter between his conversion (386) and his baptism (Easter 387) at a friend’s villa in Cassiciacum near Milan, where he wrote four philosophical works, Contra Academicos, De Beata Vita, De Ordine, and Soliloquia. In choosing the form of the philosophical dialogue, he paid homage to his pagan predecessors, above all Cicero. The influence of pagan philosophy, especially Neoplatonism, is present throughout the dialogues, as is the interest in classical literature and in the Liberal Arts. The dialogues represent Augustine’s first attempt to express and structure his new-found belief (as well as the experience of his conversion), and the views and sentiment expressed in them sometimes widely differ from his later works; yet it is unmistakably Augustine who is speaking. We will discuss the position of the dialogues in the course of Augustine’s intellectual development by comparing them to selections from later works (above all, Confessions) and from pagan philosophers (Cicero, Plotinus). Prerequisite: 3 years of college Latin or by permission of the instructor.
Offers graduate students a possibility, normally in their second or third year, to work closely with a professor in preparing a topic mutually agreed upon. Student and professor must sign a form that records the readings.
2nd-Year Research Tutorial I
An intensive program of reading in primary sources (preponderantly in the original language) and scholarly literature with a view to identifying a worthwhile, original research project, for completion in the following semester.
MI 77001 - Field Examination Preparation
Offers students a possibility, normally in their second or third year, to work closely with a professor in preparing for one of their field examinations.
Dissertation Proposal Preparation
Offers students the opportunity to work with their adviser in preparing their dissertation proposals.
Resident Dissertation Research
Independent research and writing on an approved subject under the direction of a faculty member.
Nonresident Dissertation Research
Required of nonresident graduate students who are completing their theses in absentia and who wish to retain their degree status.