Fall 2023 Courses

All of the courses listed here have received approval for Global Medieval Studies (MVST) credit X-listing. My Access is not entirely up to date. The Global Medieval Studies program will ensure that you receive MVST credit for these courses.

Note: This list is not complete, in order to access the full list of Global Medieval Studies courses, please click browse classes and do NOT put anything under the subject or keyword boxes. Instead please type MVST in the search box titled ‘attributes’ when registering or browsing for classes.

Find our course offerings for the Fall 2023 semester below.

ARAB 2202: Intro to Islamic Civilization – MW – 3:30pm – 4:45pm – Prof. Omar – CRN: 36365

* This class has a discussion section on Thursdays from 5:00pm – 6:00pm

This course is designed as an introduction to Islamic civilization and thought and requires no prior knowledge of Islam or Middle Eastern History. It will focus on the political, social and religious institutions that shaped Islamic civilization as well as on the intellectual and scholarly traditions which characterized the Arab and Muslim world from the pre-Islamic time onwards. Beginning with the geographical, cultural and historical context of the rise of Islam, the life of the Prophet, the Qur’an, it will extend through the pre-modern time, with a special emphasis on texts. The readings consist of a selection of translated primary sources as well as complementary background essays. In addition to the political history of this period, we will discuss a wide range of social and cultural themes including the translation movement, science and literature, art and architecture as well as gender issues. Films and Audios will be also solicited. ?This course fulfills the College HALC (Humanities, Arts, Literature, Culture) requirements for undergraduate students. Sessions: one hour/week discussion session. ?Optional: one hour/week discussion session in Arabic?

ARAB 4471: Islamic Law – TR – 2:00pm – 3:15pm – Prof. Opwis – CRN: 43741

This course introduces students to the main concepts of Islamic law and points out controversies among Muslim jurists as well as scholars of Islamic law. The first part of the course covers the historical development of Islamic law, its sources, and tools of law-finding. The second part, which concentrates on the modern period, gives an overview of different areas of law, such as commercial law, criminal law, family law and the position of women, law and the state, and human rights.

ARTH 1240: Ancient to Medieval – WF 11:00am – 12:15pm – Prof. Tilney – CRN: 10145

This lecture course surveys the art and architecture from the Paleolithic period through the Gothic period. Within a roughly chronological structure, we will explore the art of these periods in relation to their broader cultural, intellectual, and historical contexts. In addition to emphasizing the developments that define each historical period, we will consider the aesthetic advances made with the painting materials and methods available at the time.

ARTH 4542: Bosch, Bruegel, and Life – T – 2:00pm – 4:30pm – Prof. Acres – CRN: 43351

Is it true? Did the old masters—or some of them—have special insight about suffering and other truths of daily life? What could their representations of such things have meant to their contemporaries? And what can they mean to us? This seminar investigates the work and careers of two of the most original and influential artists of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance: Hieronymus Bosch (c.1450-1516) and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c.1525-1569). Although they worked in different generations and cities in the Netherlands, they have often been regarded in light of each other; Bruegel was even referred to as the “second Bosch” in his own time. Both probed humanity, morality, faith, daily life, and the world itself with unprecedented energy and ingenuity. As it explores the breadth of both careers, this seminar will focus especially on how Bosch and Bruegel developed new ways not merely to observe life, but also to ponder, challenge, and perhaps improve it. As we address the art itself and its colorful history of reception and interpretation, we will also consider the vitality of these paintings, prints, and drawings as instruments of reflection in our own time. Our exploration of their art and that of their contemporaries will include one or two class visits to the National Gallery of Art.

CHIN 353: War and its Legacies in Chinese Literature – TR – 12:30pm – 1:45pm – Prof. KafalasCRN: 43636

The course uses texts from Chinese philosophy, biography, poetry, and fiction to examine the significance of war in the Chinese cultural tradition. In early philosophical traditions, what are the obligations of rulers facing war? When is warfare justifiable? What aspects of war and individual action are commemorated in later biographies, prose accounts, and the monumental Ming dynasty novel Three Kingdoms? How are individual and cultural memory developed in poetic mediations on battlefields and post-war social landscape? Texts are in English translation, and will emphasize the pre-modern period. Course conducted in English. Prerequisite: None.

CHIN 362: Introduction to Classical Chinese – TR – 3:30pm – 4:45pm – Prof. Kafalas – CRN: 23598

Classical Chinese is the language of the bulk of the Chinese textual tradition from early historical and philosophical writings down to the early twentieth century. This course introduces the basic structures and vocabulary of that language, which still has a large influence on the formal written prose of modern newspapers and documents. Prerequisite: -212 or permission of instructor.

CLSL 2083: Boethius – TR – 2:00pm – 3:15pm – Prof. Haynes – CRN: 43642

This course will focus on Boethius’ most famous work, the Consolatio Philosophiae. Written in the early sixth century by a Roman senator facing execution, the Consolatio is a profound philosophical meditation on human nature that straddles the divide between classical antiquity and the Middle Ages. Its influence on later literature would be hard to overstate, and its authorial voice, calmly rational in the face of great adversity, has brought comfort to generations. Composed in alternating prose and poetry, the Consolatio has a multifaceted quality that encompasses many genres from autobiography to epic. The text will be read in the original Latin.

CLSS 2092: Before Machiavelli – TR – 11:00am – 12:15pm – Prof. Haynes – CRN: 43643

This course will explore the rich history of political treatises meant to instruct future rulers and statesmen from classical antiquity to the Renaissance. The genre, often known by its Latin name, specula principum (mirrors of princes), became especially popular in the late Middle Ages—not long before Machiavelli wrote what is probably the most famous instance of this genre. Authors read will include Cicero, Seneca, Dhuoda, John of Salisbury, Erasmus, and Machiavelli. The texts will be read in English translation, but since most were originally written in Latin, the course will also provide an overview of Latin literary history through the lens of a single genre.

ENGL 1091: History of Lit Media Culture I – MW – 5:00pm – 6:15pm – Prof. Carozza – CRN: 43311

ENGL 1091: History of Lit Media Culture I – MW – 2:00pm – 3:15pm – Prof. Bump – CRN: 43295

*The two History of Lit Media Culture courses listed above are different sections of ENGL 1091

A two-semester survey of Anglophone literary and cultural history. Literary History I focuses on texts from the medieval period through the eighteenth century; Literary History II focuses on texts from the nineteenth century to the present. These courses will highlight a number of critical and / or representative texts, debates, developments, and crises illustrative of the time periods studied. (These courses will NOT fulfill the HALC requirement).

GERM 2500: Witches – TR – 2:00pm – 3:15 – Prof. Weigert – CRN: 26897

Witches in History, Literature, and Film This course is an entry point to the Cultural Humanities and Arts at Georgetown University. It examines the construction and representation of the witch in the context of history, literature, and film, with an emphasis on historical and cultural products from German-speaking areas and Europe more broadly. The course investigates what is clearly one of the most disturbing and inexplicable occurrences in human history. Unlike the Holocaust, to which the witch hunts are frequently compared, the persecution of witches cannot be viewed as a relatively brief and unusually violent historical anomaly, since it continued over several hundred years; the witch hunts cannot be explained in the context of national specificity since they spanned almost the entire European continent and migrated to early America; nor can these events be blamed on any single “madman.” As a historical phenomenon, the witch persecution defies simplistic explanations and thus lends itself particularly well to the kinds of investigation this course intends. In order to examine the construction and representation of the witch in the context of history, literature, and film, the course explores three specific textual areas: – Historical and trial records on the “Burning Times” in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on the German lands. – Literary works and films with a focus on cultural products from German-speaking areas and Europe such as • fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm to Disney • contemporary filmic depictions of the witch theme – Scholarship interpreting and analyzing historical, literary, and other artistic sources COURSE GOALS The complexity of the course topic lends itself well to critically engage, in discussions and in writing, three issues that can be seen as central to a course in the Cultural Humanities and Arts, namely (1) interdisciplinarity, (2) contextualization in history, and (3) the “human experience.” By the conclusion of the course, students will be able to • understand how the Cultural Humanities and Arts have historically shaped our “humanity,” both as a set of common practices that unite us and as a set of distinct traditions that underscore and celebrate our differences. 

HIST 007-62: Intro Early History Europe 1 – Prof. Brizio – CRN: 41508

HIST 007 Intro Early History: World I or Europe I For College students, all sections of HIST 007 or HIST 008 fulfill the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099. Please note that if you receive AP/IB placement or credit, you cannot take HIST 007 (or 008 or 099) for credit. The various sections of HIST 007 have different focuses, for which see below; moreover, each instructor may develop or stress particular themes within her/his focus. Students are urged to consult syllabi available on line or at the History Department. The World I sections examine the history of the human experience from a global perspective. The bulk of the semester concerns societies and states from the time of ancient civilizations to about 1500 AD. The course pays particular attention to political, economic, and social changes, but also considers cultural, technological, and ecological history. The evolving relationship between human identities and their social and material environments forms one of the major points of analytical focus for this course. The overarching goal is to provide a general framework for the history of the world to help students understand the big picture, and to help them to contextualize what they will later study about history, politics, religion–in short, about the human experience. The Europe I sections offer an analysis of the major political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, and scientific developments in European Civilization to 1789.
Section information text:
Registration in the class requires department approval. Taught at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole, Italy. Students may enroll by application only, please visit studyabroad.georgetown.edu to apply and to get further information.

HIST 1401: Intro Early Hist: Europe I – TRF*- 9:00am – 9:50am – Prof. Astarita  

*For this class there are four discussion sections are on F, two at 9-9:50 (section 05 in Reynolds 130, 06 in ICC 209B), one at 10-10:50 (section 07, also in ICC 209B), and one at 11-11:50 (section 08, also in ICC 209B).

History is not simply the study of the past, but a specific way of thinking about and studying the past: history, like all disciplines within a liberal arts curriculum, pursues particular ways of formulating questions, identifying relevant evidence and contexts, analyzing and interpreting evidence, drawing conclusions, and constructing answers.  The purpose of History 007 is to introduce students to various elements of historical work and thinking and to expose them to the sweep and breadth of history through a broad survey of European history in the pre-modern period (i.e., roughly through the late eighteenth century, before the French and Industrial Revolutions).  Please note that, if you have received or expect to receive AP or IB credit or placement for History, you can NOT take HIST 140 for credit.

HIST 1601: Middle East I – TR – 9:30am – 10:45am – Prof. Agoston

This class is split into 3 sections with CRNs: 42472, 42476, 42478

This class also has 3 discussion sections:

TR – 12:30pm – 1:45pm – CRN: 42477

TR – 3:30pm – 4:45pm – CRN: 42479

TR – 5:00pm – 6:15pm – CRN: 42475

Through lectures, readings, class discussion and audio-visual material, this course examines the history of the Middle East from the late sixth to the late seventeenth centuries. The lectures focus on broader topics, such as the emergence of Islam; the history of major Middle Eastern empires; changing geo-strategic and cultural conditions; and the evolution and functioning of classical and medieval Muslim institutions. Discussion sections will enable students to deepen their knowledge regarding local diversities within the unifying systems of Muslim beliefs, law, and administration; the material and intellectual exchanges and interactions between the Muslim world and non-Muslim communities and polities; and Muslim reactions to the Crusades and the Mongol invasions. For College students, HIST 160 fulfills the core requirement in History for a broad introductory survey; these students complete the requirement by taking HIST 099.

HIST 1701: History of Russia I – TR – 11:00am – 12:15pm – Prof. Afinogenov – CRN: 11505

The Slavs, Origins of Russia, Kiev, the Mongol period, Muscovy, Imperial Russia to 1825 with special attention to autocracy, serfdom, foreign policy, the Orthodox Church, Westernization, society, culture, and the birth of the revolutionary movement.

HIST 1703: East European History I – TR – 9:30am – 10:45am – Prof. Stolarski – CRN: 40363

A survey of East European peoples and states from the rise of the Medieval Kingdoms to about 1800. The course will trace the influence of the multi-national Jagiellon, Habsburg, Ottoman, and Romanov empires in the region. Topics will include: the formation of ethnically and religiously diverse societies, the role of noble democracy, and the influence of the Enlightenment and Romanticism.

HIST 2406: Early Renaissance Italy – Prof. Brizio – CRN: 42100. Taught at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole

The fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 represents a crucial watershed in the history of European civilization. Nevertheless, the patrimony of ideas of pagan antiquity survives and continues to inspire political and religious beliefs. The course starts with a brief survey of the principal events which shaped this complex period in order to introduce some of the key lines of cultural history of the Middle Ages. A great transformation was later represented by the phenomenon of the re-birth of cities. In fact, around the eleventh century, demographic and economic factors produced a real urban revolution in some areas of Europe, and this turning point actually represents the transition from the feudal system to the late Medieval civilization. The course analyzes the society, the politics and the culture of medieval Italy, focusing mainly on cities from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. The structure of the city-state republic, the family, the daily life, the economy, the religious beliefs and practices, the world of the marginal and the mentality of the people will all be discussed in the effort of reconstructing the features of medieval urban civilization. Particular emphasis will be given to the city of Florence in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The complex city universe expresses itself through a peculiar art and architecture (cathedrals, fresco cycles, city walls and gates, public palaces, altar-pieces, market squares and monasteries) which will be studied in order to reconstruct the material environment and the ideological aspects of late Medieval and early Renaissance Italian civilization. Offered in Fall at the Villa in Fiesole, Italy.
Section information text:
Registration in the class requires department approval. Taught at Villa Le Balze in Fiesole, Italy. Students may enroll by application only, please visit studyabroad.georgetown.edu to apply and to get further information.

HIST 2410: Europe after Rome – TR 3:30pm – 4:45pm – Prof. Newfield – CRN: 32436

Profound political, cultural and environmental transformations occurred in Europe between the fourth and the tenth centuries CE. As the Roman Empire gave way to “Dark Age” kingdoms, the ways of life of ordinary people and elites, within and beyond Rome’s former limits, forever changed. This course draws upon traditional historical sources as well as the material record (bones, buildings, soils and trees) to delve into the human and natural processes that defined the era. Diverse topics are addressed, from saints and popes, to barbarian migrations and recurrent plague, to multiculturalism and Christianization, to climate change and economic fragmentation. Although focused on Europe, the course also considers connections with Rome’s Byzantine and Muslim heirs.

HIST 2413: The Vikings – MW – 12:30pm – 1:45pm – Prof. Zimmers – CRN: 43611

The ravages of the Northmen throughout Europe and beyond have been an area of fascination and of historical interest for centuries. Yet few students understand or are aware of the actual history of the people that had such a tremendous influence. This course will attempt to remedy that gap while at the same time offer a deeper understanding of the Vikings themselves. Throughout the semester we will follow a multi-disciplinary approach to the history of the Vikings in the “Heroic Age.” We will survey the history of Scandinavia and examine the history of the Northmen within both the European and world context. As such we will look at Norse activity in continental Scandinavia, in Western and Eastern Europe, the North Atlantic and beyond examining the many ways in which the Vikings interacted with foreign peoples – as merchants, conquerors, pilgrims, colonists, mercenaries, and as pirates. The course will move thematically and chronologically from c. 600 CE to c. 1200 CE examining a range of topics. We will discuss the legendary history of early Scandinavia and the consolidation of the Scandinavian kingdoms. We will attempt to recreate the early Norse world view including the creation of the world and other aspects of the Viking religious experience. Students will be introduced to a wide variety of Norse Gods and heroes and understand how the mythological and cosmological lore of the region helped shape an ethos of the North. The course will also examine the great period of the Viking expansion which in many ways shaped the history of Europe. We will look at, among other things, the Danish invasion of England, the settlement of the Normans in Northern France, the Rus and the origins of Russia as well as the discovery of America around the year 1000. While the course does move chronologically during this period, we will also look at a wide variety of historical themes including the development of Europe’s first parliamentary government (the Thing); the arrival of Christianity in the North; the legal status of feuding; and the role of women in Viking society. Within this historical framework, a good deal of attention is devoted to Viking art and archaeology, to the pagan religion of early medieval Scandinavia, and to its system of writing (the celebrated runes) and its literature (including the mythological and heroic poetry of the Edda, the court poems of the skalds, and the Icelandic sagas). Finally, the course will address the modern ramifications of the Viking Age as well as the depiction of the Vikings in modern art, music and film.

HIST 4600: Islam and War – W – 9:30am – 12:00pm – Prof. Agoston – CRN: 35872

This course examines Islamic warfare from the earliest Muslim conquests through WWI. After discussing classical Islamic conceptions of war and peace, the course examines the early Muslim conquests, the Crusades, the Mongol invasion of the Islamic world, and the wars of the Mamluk, Ottoman, and Safavid Empires. In the second part of the course we consider topics such as land, naval, and siege warfare, military manpower and military slavery in Islam, war financing, military technology, weapons and tactics, logistics and provisioning, fortresses and border defense, and the impact of war upon societies. The last phase of the course studies military modernization attempts of the Ottoman Empire and Egypt in the nineteenth century, and the ultimate defeat of modernized Muslim armies by the combined forces of ethnic nationalism and Great Power imperialism. In this section we also consider the increased destructiveness of modern warfare for non-combatants and the displacement of civilian populations.

IDST 1491-05: Ignatius Seminar: Dante’s Afterlife in Popular Culture – T- 3:30pm – 6:00pm – Prof. Ciabattoni – CRN: 43523

This course has a twofold goal: reading selected cantos from Dante’s Divine Comedy and exploring its rewritings and adaptations in popular and global cultures including literature, comics, cinema, rock/pop songs, television and the visual arts. Emphasis will be given to appropriations and rewritings of Dante in a global perspective and by minority artists.
    Some example will include Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, Lee Roy Jones (Amiri Baraka), Go Nagai, and Ai Weiwei. The course entertains the question of why and how Dante’s Divine Comedy, written seven hundred years ago, still continues to inspire creative artists in all fields and from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Artists have adapted and referenced the Divine Comedy as the quintessential text of the afterlife, spanning a broad time period and many cultural contexts. This course combines close readings of selected passages from Dante’s masterpiece with their analyses vis-à-vis the many texts, songs, video games, traditional and graphic novels and films which it has inspired.
     Some of the course’s investigative questions include: how does the original text address issues that are still relevant to today’s society and individuals? How do adaptations and rewritings of Dante’s Commedia address issues current to our own world that were not addressed or were addressed differently in the original text? How is Dante still good for you today?

SPAN 3241: Spain: Lit and Culture I – Prof. Borowitz – CRN: 15294

This course examines the act of crossing boundaries in Iberian literature from the Middle Ages and Siglo de Oro (13th-18th c.). We will read poems, stories, novels, and plays alongside biographies, autobiographies, hagiographies, and religious and political treatises. In class, we will discuss the ways in which writers during these centuries play with, challenge, and cross boundaries of various kinds—geography, law, morality, gender, and genre—in their texts. What do they gain, and what do they risk, in doing so?