Fall 2012 Courses

MVST 043 Knights of Old and Harry Potter  - Dover, TR 11 - 12:15

This course explores the medievalism of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. To do this we go back to medieval antecedents from the 12th-15th centuries, which allow us to contrast and compare the old and the new. You will read masterpieces of imaginative storytelling from French, English, and Latin medieval literature as well as selected volumes of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels and her associated smaller works. The old and the new are linked thematically in that they are all narratives about growing up and finding one’s identity: a complex, mysterious, and sometimes arduous process that the hero experiences as a magical world where the natural laws governing human existence are suspended, the unexpected is bound to occur, and marvels are reserved for the chosen few. The choices to be made, dangers to be faced, and discoveries to be made, all help the hero to relate to his own world and the public world outside. Friendship, love, good and evil, authority and power, success and failure, responsibility, belief and knowledge, self-knowledge and inexplicable mystery—these are essential experiences that structure and develop identity, in real life and in literature, today as well as yesteryear. All readings and discussion are in English. The course fulfills the Humanities & Writing II requirement. It also counts toward the Medieval Studies Major and Minor, and the SFS Certificate in Medieval Studies. The course is also offered as FREN-040-01. courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm


MVST 044 Desire, the Devil and Death - Vann, TR 3:30 - 4:45

Using as a guide Durer’s engraving Knight, Death, and the Devil, often interpreted to represent moral virtue in medieval Scholasticism, this course will investigate the interconnectedness of desire, the devil, and death in the medieval world.  Weaving illustrations in codexes, psalters, and books of hours with morality plays, legends, Arthurian romance, the Breton lai and the fabliau, we will examine ways in which written texts are both altered and enhanced by visual representations.  Some of the authors we will read are Hrotswitha and Hildegarde, Chaucer, Marie de France, and the ubiquitous medieval author Anonymous. (Counts as HUMW II course) courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm


MVST 219 Order, Ornament: Med Art & Lit. - Harrison MW 6:30-7:45

Medieval artisans and poets made their works shine with bold color, elaborate organization, and rich detail--despite the apparent chaos of their age. To explore this paradox, students will examine a range of creations taken from ruined cities and secluded monasteries, bustling universities and stately halls; and throughout, we will consider the persistent connections between visual art and poetry. As we examine some of the Middle Ages' most striking works of literature (sometimes preserved in beautiful manuscripts), questions will center on the role of order and ornament in expressing medieval worldviews. How are narratives like knots, and how are behaviors branches? What is the relationship between symmetry and goodness? What were the hidden meanings of gemstones, animals, and plants in the natural world? courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm


MVST 221 Apocalypse: Word/Image/Stone - Meyer, T 6:30 - 9:00

This course investigates the concept of the New Jerusalem, the City of God, as it is represented in medieval architecture, art, and literature of western Europe.  We begin by examining the biblical, philosophical, and theological foundations of this concept, with selections from the Books of Exodus and Kings, St. Paul’s teachings on allegory, the Book of Revelation, Plotinus, and St. Augustine. We supplement these sources with images, especially manuscript illumination and panel painting, that draw upon architectural motifs. We then turn to examples of great church architecture in France and England to explore how Gothic buildings, through their symbolic programs, serve as apocalyptic landscapes.  A variety of medieval literary works will be read together with selections from the visual arts to demonstrate how architecture and allegory worked together in the medieval effort to represent heaven on earth.  

  • All texts will be read in modern English translations.  
  • No previous knowledge of Biblical, ancient, or medieval materials is required for students. 
  • Examples from the visual arts will be drawn primarily from French and English sources.  Students will have the opportunity, however, to pursue independent work on other, related European traditions. courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm

MVST 230 Magna Carta: Government and Politics - Cline, MW 2:00 - 3:15

This seminar will explore the evolution and impact of the most famous document in all medieval history: the Magna Carta of 1215. A critical analysis of its Prologue and 63 chapters will answer some of the following questions: What political thesis does the Magna Carta represent? What socio-economic changes does the Magna Carta imply? What picture comes out of this document of the church, the merchant classes, women, the nobility, the peasants, free and serf? What is the role of the royal forest? What were the contemporary political and financial concerns and grievances that led to its issue? What liberties does it establish? Why was the Magna Carta repealed and reissued? The seminar will conclude by showing the influence of the Magna Carta on English and American law in the evolution toward constitutional government and the rule of law. courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm


MVST 232 History & Legend: Medieval Britain - Moran Cruz, MW 3:30 - 4:45

Focuses on contrasting modern views of British medieval history with medieval perceptions. The historical evidence and the legends for figures such as Arthur, King Alfred, Thomas Becket, Robin Hood, and Richard II are compared. courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm


MVST 348 Senior Seminar: Research - TBD

This research and reading seminar is required for senior Medieval Studies majors. Minors and SFS certificate students wishing to enroll and write a thesis are welcome to contact the Program Director, David Goldfrank, goldfrad@georgetown.edu. courses.georgetown.edu/index.cfm

Crosslisted courses that count toward the major, minor and certificate