Courses (Spring 2019)


Prof. Sonja Drimmer, Art History

ART-HIST 307 - Romanesque & Gothic Art - TuTh 1:00PM - 2:15PM

Designed as an introduction for undergraduate and graduate students, the aim of this course is to provide a comprehensive survey of the most important monuments of high and late medieval art and architecture from the 11th through the 15th centuries. We will also examine objects and images that are less often included in surveys, such as medieval jewelry and illustrated treatises on death. In addition, readings from sources contemporary with the objects observed in lecture will add a more textured historical background to our observations. Art and architecture will be observed not simply as reflections of dominant ideas and ideologies, but also as instrumental in formulating those ideas and ideologies.

ART-HIST 397P - The Portrait in Medieval Europe - TuTh 10:00AM - 11:15AM

This course takes as its object of focus one of the most contested forms of medieval art: the portrait. Artists of the Middle Ages seldom strived for what we think of today as an accurate physical likeness of a subject, and instead often subordinated verism and physiognomic specificity to type and ideal. How did such representations of function within overlapping and intersecting cultures of religious ritual and secular social transaction? What were their purposes and functions? And do they cause us to refine our very definition of "the portrait"?

Prof. Jessica Barr, Comparative Literature

Comp Lit 245: The Legends of King Arthur (AL) - TTh 10:00-11:15

The legends of King Arthur — with Guinevere and Lancelot, Excalibur and the Holy Grail — have been favorite stories for more than a thousand years. But those legends have changed dramatically from one retelling to the next, and they continue to change as modern authors and film-makers reimagine them. This course explores the shifting shape of the Arthurian cycle from the early Middle Ages to the present.

Comp Lit 340: Mystical Literature (AL, DG) - TTh 1:00-2:15

Mystical experience usually refers to a personal encounter with God or a transcendent power, a deep communion with spirits outside of ourselves — with that which lies beyond. But how can you write about an experience that defies language? In this course, we will analyze the ways in which mystics have tried to capture such seemingly inexpressible, non-verbal experiences. Readings will draw from the mystical traditions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism.

Prof. Frank Hugus, German and Scandinavian Studies

German 584: The German Language - TTh 10:00-11:15

This course presents a linguistic history of the German language from its Indo-European roots through the contemporary language of the reunited Germany. Students will analyze the significant developments in the phonology, morphology and vocabulary of German as it evolved from its beginnings in the 2nd millennium BCE to the present.

Prof. Anne Broadbridge, History

History 394AI: The Age of the Crusades - MWF 10:10-11:00.

Students will study the history of the Age of the Crusades (1090s-1290s). They will cover the eight major crusades to the Middle East and North Africa, including personalities, ideologies, and military and logistical challenges. They will investigate the European Crusaders, those Muslim, Christian and Jewish who were "Crusaded Against", and the cultural interactions among them all. Students will also examine Crusades in Europe, and Crusades of later centuries. Satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Hist majors.

History 394TI: Mongol & Turkish Empires - MWF 2:30-3:20

In this course students investigate the history of Genghis Khan and the Great Mongol Empire, the Mongol Successor Empires, and the copycat Temurid Empire, covering the time period 1150-1500. They look at the rise, expansion and fall of these empires, and at the complexities that make this history so gripping. They also learn unexpected secrets about the contributions made by Chinggis Khan's womenfolk to this history, based on new research. Course fulfills the History Department's pre-1500 requirement and one of its two non-Western requirements. Students will reflect on themselves as students and history majors, on their college careers so far, and on what they have learned in their college careers. They will then make connections between these reflections and the diverse topics we cover in Mongol and Turkish history. This will be through a special paper, on two of four response papers, on both exams, and in guided discussion during most lectures. At the end of the course, they will not only have gained insight into the class material, but also insight into themselves and into their own personal knowledge of the world. Satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BA-Hist majors.

Prof. Joshua Birk, History at Smith College

History 226: Renaissance and Reformation? Europe in the Late Middle Ages: Society, Culture and Politics - MWF 11:10-12:10.

Were the Renaissance and Reformation something new and modern, or a continuation of medieval trends? Topics include the Black Death, Europe as a persecuting society, the emergence of humanism, the fragmentation of religious unity across Europe, Witch Trials, the intersection of politics and science, and the beginnings of the Age of Exploration and European Imperialism.

History 227: Magic in the Middle Ages - MW 2:40-4:00

The course uses magic as a case study for exploring cultural transmission in the Middle Ages. We begin by examining Germanic and Greco-Roman occult traditions, and the way in which the medieval synthesis of these cultures effects understandings of the occult. The course follows the influence of the Arabic and Hebrew influences on western occultism of the High Middle Ages, and flowering of the Renaissance magical tradition. The course challenges and reshapes some of our basic understandings about Medieval society. It problematizes modern division between science, magic and religion to illustrate how occult beliefs were part of wider religious experiences.

Prof. Michael Papio, Italian

Italian 397T: The Italian Short Story from 1250 to 1600 - TTh 10:00-11:15.

Taught in Italian. The birth of the Italian novella was one of the most significant events ever to shape the course of European literature. Although related to the fabliau and the exemplum, the novella developed a "personality" all its own. From high tragedy to raucous ribaldry, from stories of love and adventure to tales of wit and cruelty, almost every type of literary form has been adapted to the specific exigencies of the Italian short story. In this course students will trace the evolution of the genre from its relatively simplistic beginnings in the late 13th century to the perfectly polished tales that so influenced Rabelais, Shakespeare, Cervantes and others. Students will get to know individual authors as well as a deeper understanding of several characteristic motifs and themes common to novellas such as the beffa, anticlericalism, misogyny and courtly love. Authors to be studied include Boccaccio, Sacchetti, Sercambi, Masuccio, Bandello and Giraldi Cinzio.

Italian 497J: Dante & the Duecento - TTh 1:00-2:15

Taught in English. In this course, students will become familiar with the major currents of thirteenth-century Italian poetry and will explore Dante's Divine Comedy as an encyclopedic compendium of medieval thought as well as a very personal vision of the individual's place in the universe, a journey that is as meaningful now as it was 700 years ago. Crosslisted with ITALIAN 608 for graduate students.

Prof. Albert Lloret, Spanish and Portuguese

SPANISH 697DQ - Don Quixote, TTh 4:00-6:30 PM

Taught in Spanish. A close reading of the two parts of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1604 and 1615). The novel will be discussed in connection with the author’s literary culture, with special attention to his literary ideas, as well as to his parodic use of chivalric and Byzantine romances, picaresque fictions, lyric poetry and ballads. Cervantes’ writing process and narrative techniques, the printing of the first editions of the work, and the history of the interpretation of the novel will be examined in detail.