Spring 2008 Graduate Courses

MI 60028--Introduction to Meister Eckhart
T R 12:30 - 1:45 pm
Stephen Gersh

This course will attempt to introduce Eckhart's thought by reading a selection of his most important Latin works. This close textual study will demonstrate the extent to which Eckhart presents a possibly unique combination of extreme technical exactitude and exegetical flexibility and how, thanks to these skills he is able to develop a radically Neoplatonic (Dionysian) philosophy within the context of Augustinian readings and a methodology responsive to the demands of the Aristotelian or Scholastic traditions. Selections will be from works including the Exposition of Genesis, the Book of the Parables of Genesis, the Exposition of John, the Parisian Questions, the Prologue to the Tripartite Work, and the Prologue to the Work of Propositions.  Although the works to be selected for study are available at least in German and sometimes also in French or English translations, a reading of knowledge of Latin is essential for this course. Requirements: regular translation exercises (written and oral) and one short oral presentation.

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MI 60103--Text Culture in the Middle Ages
R 6:30 - 9:00 pm
Katherine Zieman

Close analysis of several preserved Middle English texts, with a focus on the interchange of texts between audiences.

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MI 60111--Beowulf
T R 9:30 - 10:45 am
Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe

Beowulf is the longest and earliest surviving heroic poem in any medieval Germanic language, and has been recognized for over two centuries as a literary masterpiece. Yet, on examination, the reasons why it is reckoned a masterpiece are not always clear: its narrative design is frequently oblique and obscure; its language is dense and often impenetrable; and it relates to a Germanic society which can barely be reconstructed, let alone understood, by modern scholarship. The aims of the course will be to understand the narrative design and poetic language of Beowulf, and then to attempt to understand these features of the poem in the context of early Germanic society. The language of Beowulf is difficult and therefore a sound training in old English grammar and a good reading knowledge of old English literature, especially poetry, are essential prerequisites for the course.

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MI 60210--Late Antiquity
M W F 10:40 - 11:30 am
Thomas F. X. Noble

This course will explore the transformation of the Roman World from about 300 to 600 AD. We will ask: was the "fall" of the Roman Empire a civilizational catastrophe? Or was it a slow, messy process blending continuity and change? Or was Late Antiquity itself a dynamic and creative period? Our emphasis will fall on: The changing shape of Roman public life; the barbarians and their relations with Rome; the emergence of the Catholic Church; the triumph of Christian culture; literature, art, and architecture in the late imperial world. There will be a mid-term and a final. Students will write either one term paper or a series of shorter papers. Readings will emphasize primary sources.

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MI 60256--Muslims and Christians in the Medieval Mediterranean World
M 3:00 - 5:30 pm
Olivia Remie Constable

This course will examine contacts between Christianity and Islam in the period from the seventh century to the fifteenth century. Although issues of religion will be addressed, the course is more concerned with diplomatic, economic, military, cultural, technological, and intellectual encounters and exchange. Special attention will be focused on the regions of Spain, Sicily, and the Crusader States. The course is designed as a survey, but students may elect to write either a research paper or three shorter historiographical essays. Regular student presentations will also be required.

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MI 60279--Medieval Legal History
W 8:00 - 10:00P
Robert Rodes

Studies the formative period of the Anglo-American legal system using 14th-century yearbooks and other materials from the same period.

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MI 60351--Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Psychology in Scotus
T R 2:00 - 3:15 pm
Richard Cross

An examination of the philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology of medieval philosopher Duns Scotus.

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MI 60367--Medieval and Renaissance Platonism
T R 11:00 - 12:15 pm
Stephen Gersh

The course aims to study the transition between medieval and Renaissance philosophy with special reference to the Platonic tradition.  In order to achieve this aim, we will focus on a small group of central figures and study some of their works in detail. Texts to be studied in whole or part will include Nicholas of Cusa: On Learned Ignorance, On the Beryl, On the Vision of God, Marsilio Ficino: Platonic Theology, On Love, On Plato's Phaedrus, and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, On the Dignity of Man, On Being and Unity, Heptaplus.  We will study not only the general question of the impact of Humanism on the scholastic method of the Middle Ages but also such more specific questions as the expansion of the "Platonic" corpus and the new viewpoints on the history of philosophy. Knowledge of Latin will be helpful but not essential (since all the above texts are available in English). Written requirement: one final paper of ca. 20 pp.

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MI 60423--St. Ephrem the Syrian
M 9:35 - 12:35 pm
Joseph Amar

This Seminar explores the life and literary legacy of St. Ephrem the Syrian (c. 310 - c. 373), Father and Doctor of the Church. The singular importance of Ephrem derives from the fact that he is the most eloquent representative of Christian faith expressed in its native Semitic milieu. Long after Greco-Latin writers embraced the analytical categories of philosophy and classical rhetoric, Syriac-speaking Christianity in the person of Ephrem continued to articulate its faith in the richly allusive and nuanced language of Symbolic Theology. Ephrem's poetic sensibility combined with his arresting interpretive skills earned him the title "Master" of Christian Aramaic biblical exegesis and catechesis. In short, Ephrem represents the unique phenomenon of Christianity in cultural and linguistic dialogue with the thought-world of Late Second Temple Judaism while anticipating the language and religious milieu of nascent Islam. Contemporary scholarship unanimously regards Ephrem as the most influential theologian-poet in all of early Christianity.

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MI 60484--Formation of Imperial Christianity
T R 3:30 - 4:45 pm
Robin Darling Young

Many of the present institutions of the Christian church--its structures and its laws--developed from the governmental offices of the later Roman Empire. Parish, diocese, and metropolitan see; episcopal, patriarchal, and papal governance; and the ecumenical council with its doctrinal pronouncements and conciliar decisions, were all made possible thanks to imperial sponsorship. Nonetheless, opposition to empire remained an attractive minority position among Christians, from the Book of Revelation through martyrdom to monastic anachoresis. Through a close examination of both primary and secondary sources, this course will introduce students to the structures and habits of the Roman Empire from the first through the sixth centuries, the Christian adaptation to empire, and the resultant church politics that remain in existence today.

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MI 60553--Dante II
T R 12:30 - 1:45 pm
Christian Moevs

An in-depth study, over two semesters, of the entire Comedy, in its historical, philosophical and literary context, with selected readings 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.

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MI 60608--Early Christian Studies
T 3:00 - 5:00 pm
W. Martin Bloomer

The Proseminar in Early Christian Studies will examine the practice and theory of rhetorical education in the first five centuries of Christianity. A fascination with the power of words to persuade, to educate, and to convert characterizes the culture of the late antique world. Various Christians exploited, modified or even sought to replace the techniques of rhetoric. In trying to understand the dynamics of the early Christian communities, modern scholarship has returned to study the methods of communication, composition, and interpretation that so gripped the ancient authors. Students will study the chief ancient sources (including material culture) and leading scholary studies and interpretations. In addition, students will be introduced to the research methods for studying primary evidence from Late Antiquity.

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MI 60632--Medieval Latin Survey
M W 1:30 - 2:45 pm
W. Martin Bloomer

The aim of this course is to experience a broad spectrum of Medieval Latin texts. Readings representative of a variety of genres (literary and subliterary), eras, and regions will be selected. Students planning to enroll in this course should be completing MI 60003--Introduction to Christian Latin Texts or they must secure the permission of the instructor. Those with interests in particular text types should inform the instructor well in advance so that he can try to accommodate their interests.

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MI 60726--Northern Renaissance Art
T R 9:30 - 10:45 am
Charles Rosenberg

Open to all students. This course traces the development of painting in Northern Europe (France, Germany, and Flanders) from approximately 1300 to 1500. Special attention is given to the art of Jan Van Eyck, Roger van der Weyden, Hieronymous Bosch, and Albrecht Durer. Through the consideration of the history of manuscript and oil painting and the graphic media, students will be introduced to the special wedding of nature, art, and spirituality that defines the achievement of the Northern Renaissance.

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MI 60758--Kingdom, Empire, and Devotion: Art in Anglo-Saxon, Ottonian, and Romanesque Europe
T R 3:30 - 4:45 pm
Danielle Joyner

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.

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MI 60783--Vocal Sacred Music I
T R 2:00 - 3:15 pm
Alexander Blachly

Vocal Sacred Music I is devoted primarily to Gregorian Chant, with somestudy toward the end of the semester of medieval polyphonic works basedon chant. The course will cover matters of liturgy, performance practice,musical forms, notation, and sources.

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MI 63425--Patristics Seminar
W 9:35 - 12:35 pm
John Cavadini

The book of Psalms has been the center of Jewish and Christian prayer for centuries. No doubt the ability to serve such a role has been conditioned by the fact that the historical background of these prayers have always been refracted through the lens of synagogue or church. In this course we will consider the book of Psalms from two different perspectives: that of their historical origins and canonical role in the Jewish scriptures and their reception in Patristic commentaries and their use in the early Church's developing understanding of itself, its prayer and union with Christ. On occasion, reference will be made to Rabbinic and Medieval Jewish commentaries as well as Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. Through a close reading of a select group of Psalms we will explore what the theological significance of the Psalter has been and is for modern readers.

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MI 63443--Grace in Medieval Theology: Aquinas
R 9:30 - 12:15 pm
Joseph Wawrykow

Aquinas's discussion of grace in the Summa theologiae is richly textured, and dense in historical and systematic insight. The very placement of the treatise on grace underscores the centrality of grace for Aquinas. Located at the end of the Prima Secundae (qq.109-114), the Summa's treatise on grace brings to completion the general reflections that constitute ST I- II, on the movement of the rational creature to God as end, and sets the stage for the more specialized inquiries of the Secunda Secundae. This course examines the Summa's teaching on grace in various contexts as a discrete treatise that is itself carefully designed; in connection with such related topics elsewhere in the Summa as virtue, gifts of the Holy Spirit, providence and predestination, and, the missions, of both Son and Spirit; in comparison with discussions of grace in his other major writings (including the biblical commentaries); and, in dialogue with the principal interlocutors (both Christian and non-Christian, both ancient and more recent) on whom Aquinas drew in presenting his analysis of grace. Close reading will drive the course, supplemented by reports (on adjacent themes, on the key sources) and a final term paper.

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MI 63467--Medieval Liturgies
M 10:00 - 1:00 pm
Michael Driscoll

The purpose of this seminar is to examine the various sacramental rites in the Middle Ages, especially the Eucharistic liturgy, and to attempt to reconstruct them within the context of liturgical enactment, architectural space, artistic and musical decoration, etc. The seminar must necessarily deal with liturgical texts, but this is only a first step for understanding the broader dimensions of the liturgy. Architectural, artistic and musical components will be taken into consideration. Numerous commentaries on the liturgy are also an important source for garnering the medieval understanding of the liturgy, especially in its allegorical interpretation. A tangential but key element for the understanding is the devotional and spiritual practices that grew up alongside the official liturgy. Therefore, some attention will be given to these dimensions, including liturgical drama.

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MI 63471--Islamic Origins
M 1:55 - 4:55 pm
Gabriel Reynolds

Few questions in Religious Studies have proven more contentious than that of Islamic origins. Formerly, western scholars debated whether Islam originated from Christianity or from Judaism. In reaction to that earlier debate, contemporary scholars have often portrayed Islam as a fully-independent religious movement, due either to the genius of Muhammad or the inspiration of the Qur'an. At the same time, new theories have sporadically arisen that present profoundly new visions of Islamic origins, theories based on non-Islamic historical sources (Crone/Cook), theological analogies to Judaeo-Christianity (Lueling), or Syro-Aramaic readings of the Qur'an (Luxenberg). The present seminar, then, is devoted to an investigation of the past and present debate over Islamic origins.

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MI 63483--Love and Death: Midrash on the Song of Songs
T 9:30 - 12:15 pm
Michael Signer

We will examine Rabbinic exegesis and homiletics on these two central works.The course will begin with the debate over the canonical status of the works and move on to survey the range of Rabbinic comments on theses works in early and late Rabbinic midrash. Attention will also be given to comparing Rabbinic exegesis to the Patristic tradition. Knowledge of Hebrew is desirable but not required.

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MI 63759--Seminar: Early Christian/Byzantine Art
M W 11:45 - 1:00 pm
Charles Barber

The formation of Early Christian art has long dominated our discussions of the European art produced between ca. 200 and ca. 700 CE. This seminar will, however, explore the art of the existing pagan culture of this era and will consider its fate in the face of the expansive presence of Christianity. In particular, we will consider our assumptions regarding the implications of a change from religious to cultural significance for the material culture of late paganism. Topics to be considered will include: mythological sarcophagi and pagan burial; statues of the gods and the birth of the museum; domestic and divine portraits; silver and myth; illuminating the classics; neoplatonic aesthetics; erotica; Constantine's religion.

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MI 66020 Directed Readings (for Graduate Students)
Various Instructors
By arrangement

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.

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MI 67002 2nd-Year Research Tutorial II
Various Instructors
By arrangement

Second-year graduate students in medieval studies produce a substantial, original research paper based on the intensive program of reading in primary sources (preponderantly in the original language) and scholarly literature undertaken with a teacher in the previous semester. Alternatively, by permission of the Medieval Institute's director, students may use the tutorial to expand and polish a paper prepared originally for a previous research seminar.

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77001 Field Examination Preparation
Thomas Noble
By arrangement

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.

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77002 Dissertation Proposal Preparation
Various instructors
By arrangement

Offers students the opportunity to work with their adviser in preparing their dissertation proposal.

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88001 Research and Dissertation
Various instructors
By arrangement

Independent research and writing on an approved subject under the direction of a faculty member.

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88002 Nonresident Dissertation Research
Various instructors
By arrangement

Required of nonresident graduate students who are completing their theses in absentia and who wish to retain their degree status.

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