Spring 2022 Courses

Gold plaque of a mounted Scythian, Black Sea region, c. 400–350 BCE, The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. Learn more about the rich diversity of artifacts and cultures along the silk routes in Dr. Michelle Wang’s Art of the Silk Routes course!

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

How to find X-listed Courses:

Courses are not currently published in MyAccess or Classy. In the meantime, please take advantage of the courses listed below to aid you as you plan your schedule for the fall.

In MyAccess: Log in to MyAccess, then select the “Student Services” tab. Navigate to “Registration”, choose “Schedule of Classes” from the menu that appears, then select “Spring 2022” from the drop-down menu.  Click on any subject, then hold down Ctrl + A (on PC) or Command + A (on Mac) to select all courses. Near the bottom of the page, select X-List: MVST, then press “Class Search”. The next web page should list all X-listed MVST courses. 

In Classy: Go to Classy | by The Corp and select “MVST” under the drop-down menu “Cross-listed with”.

Find our course offerings for the Spring 2022 semester below.

ARAB 333: God, Nature, & Society, MW 2-3:15pm –– Prof. Rodrigo Adem

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Humanities, Core: HALC, X-List: CULP, X-List: MSFS

Islamic Civilization produced authors who wrote on every topic imaginable. This course, open to undergraduates, provides a unique opportunity to read a wide array of classical Islamic texts in translation, covering a variety of topics such as: God and religion, philosophy and science, politics and social values, and the value of individual experience. Throughout the class our goal is not to essentialize one “Islamic” set of values, but to engage with these classical Islamic texts as springboards for reflections of our own about the world we live in and discuss them from a comparative humanistic perspective.

ARAB 343: The Qur’an, TR 11am-12:15pm –– Prof. Sara Omar

Core: Diversity/Domestic, Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Social Science, SFS/RCST Middle East, College/THEO X-listed Course, X-List: CULP, X-List: INAF, X-List: MSFS, Core: Theology

This course will provide students with an introduction to the Qur’an. We will be reading the Qur’anic text closely and comparing different translations. We will also study the history of the text, its revelation, the context in which it originated, its compilation, structure, content, process of canonization, central themes and the diverse ways in which Muslims have interpreted it and continue to interpret it today. Students will acquire a close familiarity with the Qur’anic text, its form, style and literary aspects as well as the broader debates on hermeneutics within the study of religion. This course will go beyond approaching scripture as a bounded, collected, literary text, by examining the experiential and material encounters between the Qur’an and Muslim communities. As such, this course will examine the Qur’an as a text and as a revelation that has a history of reception among communities of believers. 

ARAB 412: Sex & Power in the Islamic Tradition, T 12:30-3pm –– Prof. Sara Omar

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Humanities, SFS/RCST Middle East, Core:HALC – Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, X-List: HIST, X-List: INAF, X-List: WGST

Whether involving the headscarf, intolerance towards homosexuality or sex slavery, discourse over Islam and Muslims is very often tied to questions of gender and sexuality, from the treatment of women and women’s rights to views on LQBTQ+ issues.  In part, this is because any discussion of ‘Islam and women’ is politicized in the context of globalization and the tensions between perceptions of the globalization of Western norms on the one hand and perceptions of cultural authenticity on the other.  In part, this inevitable political dimension exists because gender and sexuality in human society have always been categories and terms developed and wielded in the context of power, whether concerning the distribution of resources, rights to autonomy and movement, or power to define a community’s identity and history.  

This course will explore the intersection of power and sexuality in the Islamic tradition, examining case studies in law, literature, society and politics from the early Islamic period to the present day. Students will closely read primary sources in translation, and learn how to critically analyze, evaluate and interpret literary texts, artistic expressions, film and critical concepts. This course will require students to engage in the readings through class discussions and written assignments throughout the semester in the form of weekly question posts, three short papers, and a final written essay. Finally, students will be required to engage in a structured in-class debate with their peers. They will deliberate on critical ethical and legal points of view in relation to culture and interpretation. This creative exercise is meant to enable students to both listen and voice their differences while engaging the diversity of thinking across cultures. 

ARAB 417: Shariah Law & Its Discontents, M 11am-1:30pm –– Prof. Jonathan Brown

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Humanities, SFS/RCST Middle East, X-List: INAF, X-List: MSFS

This course will cover material that includes the history of the interpreting profession, the modes of interpreting and theories, and the strategies and techniques of both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting.

ARTH 101: Ancient to Medieval Art, WF 11-12:15pm –– Prof. Barrett Tilney

SFS/IHIS Core, Core: HALC – Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, X-List: CATH

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.

Students must attend the first class or second class or lose their place.

For more information about this and other courses in the Department of Art and Art History, please visit https://art.georgetown.edu/s21-classes/#.

ARTH 375: Art of the Silk Routes, MW 11-12:15pm –– Prof. Michelle C. Wang

Core: Diversity/Global

This course focuses on the cultural heritage of the overland silk routes. As early as 2500 BCE, the historical silk routes served as a conduit for commercial trade, cultural exchange, and technological innovation across Eurasia. The rich diversity of cultures in this region is mirrored by the broad range of objects and architectural sites that we will study, ranging from metalwork and glassware to paintings, textiles, manuscripts, temples, and mosques. We will put these artifacts and sites into context by imagining how they interfaced with the rulers, monks, traders, and nomads who traveled and lived along the silk routes. No prior knowledge of Asian art or religions is required or assumed.

ARTH 467: Arts of Zen Buddhism, M 2-4:30pm –– Prof. Michelle C. Wang

Core: Diversity/Global

Zen Buddhism is one of the major traditions of Buddhism in East Asia and was moreover an instrumental force in shaping modern perceptions of Japan in the west. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze how the perceived distinctiveness of Zen Buddhism – as marked by

concepts such as mind-to-mind transmission, master-disciple lineage, and sudden enlightenment – was constructed through the visual arts and how the arts in turn contributed to monk-patron relations and the cultural lives of monks outside the monastic walls. Among the weekly topics to be covered are: ink landscape paintings, portraits of Zen masters, the tea ceremony and ceramic tea wares, as well as Beat Zen and the impact of Buddhism upon postwar artists in the United States. No prior knowledge of Asian art or religions is required or assumed.

Hakuin Ekaku, Hotei on a Boat, Edo period (1615-1868), hanging scroll, ink on paper, Manyo’an Collection, 1998.56

ENGL 091: History of Literature, Media, and Culture I, MW 12:30-1:45pm –– Prof. Sarah McNamer

Literary History I is part of a two-semester sequence that surveys Anglophone literary and cultural history. We will be reading texts from the medieval period through the eighteenth century. The course will highlight a number of critical and/or representative texts, genres, debates, developments, and crises illustrative of the time periods studied.

ENGL 315: New Approaches to Medieval/Renaissance Literature, MW 5-6:15pm –– Prof. Sarah McNamer

Core: Diversity/Global

The literature of medieval and Renaissance England remains a vibrant and dynamic area of study in part because new conceptual tools and theoretical perspectives continually prompt us to see old texts in new ways. In this course, we will ask how some of the most recent and creative critical methods can open up classics from the literary canon to fresh forms of analysis. Our core texts will include Anglo-Saxon poetry, the Lais of Marie de France, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the poetry of Thomas Wyatt, Elizabethan sonnets and Shakespeare’s Othello. These readings will be supplemented by selected secondary essays – typically published within the past five years — representing the rich variety of current critical engagements, from ecocriticism and material culture studies to posthumanist theory, affect theory, critical race studies, digital humanities, and histories of the senses and emotion. Requirements will include short response papers, two essays and a final paper. All readings will be in modern English. There are no prerequisites, but it will be helpful to have taken English 090 or English 091 prior to this course.

GERM 043: Witches in History, Literature, and Film, TR 2:00-3:15pm –– Prof. Lorna McCarron

Taught in English, SFS/CULP Humanities, SFS/CULP Core, Core: HALC – Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, Literature in Translation, X-List: CATH, X-List: ENGL, X-List: WGST

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. In order to do so, the course explores three specific textual areas: 1) historical and trial records on the “Burning Times” in early modern Europe, with an emphasis on the German lands, 2) literary works and films with a focus on cultural products from or about German-speaking areas and Europe (such as fairy tales, a play, a novel, and poetry, and contemporary film depictions of the witch theme), and scholarship interpreting and analyzing historical, literary, and other artistic sources. 

The complexity of the course topic lends itself well to critically engaging, in discussions and in writing, three issues that can be seen as central to a course in the Cultural Humanities and Arts, namely interdisciplinarity, contextualization in history, and 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, exercise critical thinking skills through engagement with a variety of historically situated cultural products, engage with difference and diversity by thinking across cultures, and articulate ethical points of view in relation to arts, culture, and interpretation.

HIST 007: Intro to Early History I: Europe I, European Civilization to 1789 – Women, Family, and Society, 11:15-12:45pm and 2-3:30pm T –– Prof. Elena Brizio

Taught at Villa Le Balze. 

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/Core Macro-Integ History

This course will provide an introductory survey of European history from late Imperial Rome to the eighteenth century. The main focus will be on social and cultural developments, but political, economic, religious, intellectual, and artistic themes will also be addressed. Within these general themes, we will in particular look at the family as a social institution in which individuals, both men, and women, were legally subordinated in different ways to their father’s authority, and their social behaviors were strictly controlled. If they behaved ‘correctly’, they were given protection and freedom. The course also considers some alternative, personal, or professional life strategies, far from ‘correct’ behaviors, which evolved during these times. The aim is to introduce students to a cultural, social, and historical approach to an intriguing topic from different but interrelated points of view.

The course also aims to help students think historically and understand the process of historical reasoning and analysis. The lectures will help especially with addressing the social reality of the family through the centuries. The auxiliary readings are texts of varied nature and we will try to understand how each type of text can help us analyze various historical problems.

HIST 099: History Focus: Italian Renaissance, 3-3:50pm TR –– Prof. Tommaso Astarita

Core: Diversity/Global

The general aim of HIST 099 is to introduce students to various elements of historical work and thinking, within the context of looking at a particular historical period, event, or theme in some depth. Through lectures and discussions will focus on particular topics, there will also be class exercises, assignments, and readings that will allow instructors and students to explore how historians identify, define, and employ primary sources of all types, how historians analyze those sources, how they formulate questions, how they engage with the work of prior historians, and how they aim to reconstruct various elements of the human experience in particular times and places.

HIST 231: Middle Ages, Millennium – Black Death, 2-3:15pm –– Prof. Jo Ann Moran Cruz

SFS/IPOL Electives, SFS/RCST Western Europe, College/SFS/European Stud Cert, X-List: CATH

In the period between 1000 and 1450, Europe was transformed from a provincial backwater into one of the most dynamic regions of the world. This course will explore how this transformation took place. It will provide a survey of the second half of the Middle Ages, concentrating on the political, economic, social, ecclesiastical, artistic and intellectual developments of the period. We will examine how some of the most important institutions of western civilization–representative assemblies, universities, and the nation-state, to cite a few examples–developed in this period. Classes will contain a mixture of lectures, discussions, and structured exercises (such as debates and recreations of historical events), with a focus on analyzing primary sources in their historical context.

HIST 332: Mary Through the Ages, T 9:30am-12pm –– Prof. Vanessa Corcoran

College/THEO X-listed Course, X-List: CATH, X-List: WGST

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the development of Marian beliefs, devotions, practices, and representations within Christianity, as well as in Judaism and Islam from Late Antiquity to the present day. Through examining Marian doctrines, Marian devotions, Mary in art and liturgy, Marian feasts, and principal Marian literary works, students will understand the historical development of this familiar and global figure. By examining the central influence of the Virgin Mary, students will gain a broader historical understanding of the cultures of world Christianities, Judaism and Islam. No previous history knowledge is required, though a cursory familiarity with European and religious history will be helpful.

HIST 346: The History of History, TR 5-6:15pm –– Prof. Tommaso Astarita

College/SFS/European Stud Cert

In our own troubled times, notions of evidence, truth, and the reliability of information are hotly debated and politically relevant.  These questions have been at the core of the discipline of history as practiced in the western world since antiquity.  In this seminar course, we will read some of the major classics in the field of history from antiquity to the present, covering a variety of topics, from international politics to society and gender.  By the end of the class, students will be familiar with the major developments in history in the western world, both as a form of inquiry and writing and as a scholarly discipline.  History as an intellectual practice is not simply the retelling of past events, but their analysis and the development of a coherent examination of their significance; indeed, history as a discipline begins by questioning the process itself of reconstructing past events.  The aim of this course is to introduce students to historical methodology and interpretation, as they have developed over the centuries since the ancient world.  Our topics will include the definition and use of different types of sources and evidence, the question of objectivity, the definition of proper subjects for historical investigation, the changes in the larger issues considered important by historians and affected by their work, the development of different genres of history-writing, the evolution of different ideas of causality, and changes in the image, character, and role of historians as intellectuals.  We will do this primarily through a critical reading of the works of several historians from the ancient world to the present day.

HIST 404/BIOL 269: Global History of the Plague, W 2-4:30pm –– Prof. Timothy Newfield

X-List: HIST, Medical Humanities, X-List: BIOL

This course considers the global history of Yersinia pestis, the zoonotic bacterium (a microorganism causing disease in people and other animals) that causes plague. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to both tease out macro- and micro-histories of the three pandemics associated with the pathogen––the Justinianic Plague, Black Death, and Third Pandemic––and also to pin down transitions in the plague’s past––biological, cultural, and ecological––fundamental for understanding the bacterium’s inconstant pandemicity. Students will travel considerable time and space––the sixth century to the present, Alexandria to Buenos Aires––and draw on diverse sources––like Byzantine hagiography, the New York Times, and plague-victim teeth––to engage scholarly debates, unravel plague’s complexity, and assess plague’s impact. This class counts as IP credits for BGH majors, not Biology elective credits. 

France, Auvergne, Haute-Loire, Lavaudieu, St André Abbey, 12th century. The Black Death. South nave wall. Mural painting, 14th century.

HIST 431: Outer Space: Plato to Pluto, MW 9:30-10:45am –– Prof. David Collins

X-List: CATH

Human beings, regardless of when and where, have looked to the skies and pondered, “what’s up there”. Answers and speculations have found their way into religious texts, scientific books, and the canon of world literature. Some reflections highlight the differences between the world above and the world we live in, others on connections and similarities. But from tide tables to horoscopes, a common conviction linking Antiquity to the present is that the world(s) above influences the world below. The subject of this seminar is ideas about and reflections upon what in the pre-modern West, from Greek Antiquity to early modern Europe (seventeenth century), has been variously called “outer space,” “the heavens,” and “the celestial sphere”. In an upper-level history seminar, there will be an emphasis on the analysis of primary materials, but the course is constructed to accommodate students with a variety of academic backgrounds and interests. Thus, while a background in pre-modern western history will at times be an advantage, so too will basic knowledge in physics, theology, and literature. In this respect, the seminar will benefit from the variety of strengths and interests the students collaboratively bring to the table. Research papers will be required rather than examinations.

INAF 243/JCIV 241: Kabbalah in its Contexts, TR 12:30-1:45pm –– Prof. Ori Soltes

Core: Diversity/Domestic, Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/IHIS Core, SFS/RCST Middle East, College/THEO X-listed Course, X-List: JCIV

This course will address the question of what “mysticism” is—how it differs from “normative” religious experience—and therefore how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim mysticism differ from (and are rooted in) normative Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It will also address the question of how Jewish, Christian, and Muslim mysticism differs from and share common ground with each other. The course will follow a two-fold path. One will be conceptual: we will be constantly asking how what we are reading, talking, and thinking about is specific or not specific to what Jewish or Christian, or Muslim mysticism is. The other will be historical: all three mystical traditions undergo centuries of development and part of grasping them is seeing how they change even as they remain consistently focused on the same essential issues. And those issues, not unique to mysticism or to these three “types” of mysticism, but uniquely addressed by each of them, include: why are we here? what, if anything, created us? for what purpose, if any? how can we know what It/He/She is and wants of us? how can we grasp that Other without losing hold of ourselves?—and so on…

ITAL 383: Dante’s Afterlife in Popular Culture –– Prof. Francesco Ciabattoni

Doyle Seminar, Taught in English

Taught at the Villa La Balze campus. 

The Divine Comedy has been the most successful account of the Christian afterlife for centuries. How do such artists as Toni Morrison, Lee Roy Jones (Amiri Baraka), Go Nagai, and Ai Weiwei appropriate and respond to Dante’s thirteenth-century vision of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise? There is only one way to find out…

SPAN 241: Spain: Literature and Culture I, TR 12:30-1:45pm – Prof. Lilian Bringas

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Humanities, SFS/CULP Core, SFS/RCST Western Europe, College/SFS/European Stud Cert, Core: HALC – Hum, Art, Lit, Cul, MSB/Humanities & Writing II

Spanish 241 is an introduction to Spanish literature from the twelfth through the seventeenth centuries and an introduction to the study of pre-modern works of literature and cultures.

THEO 043: Augustine’s “Confessions”, MW 3:30-4:45pm –– Prof. Tarmo Toom

X-List: CATH, Core: Theology

This is a course on a masterpiece in world literature, on a late 4th-century text of Augustine. We will read closely the whole of Confessions in which Augustine tells his story in the form of sequential conversions to the quest for wisdom (Cicero), Manichaeism, skepticism, Neoplatonic philosophy, and Catholic Christianity. The Confessions is the history of the schooling of the author’s heart in the love of God, which is presented simultaneously as a narrative, introspection, theological reflection, philosophical scrutiny, and prayer.

THEO 050: Introduction to Islam, TR 2-3:15pm –– Prof. Mehmet Sayilgan

Core: Diversity/Global, SFS/CULP Social Science, SFS/CULP Core, SFS/IHIS Core, College/SFS/REWA Area 3, Core: Theology

This course aims to provide a comprehensive introduction to Islam, its history, diversity, beliefs, and practices. While the first part introduces the traditional narrative of Muhammad’s life and context, the second part concentrates on the foundations of Islam such as the Qur’an, the legacy of Muhammad, and Sharia or Islamic Law. In the last part, we will study various aspects of the tradition including theology, rituals as well as jihad, and women in Islam.

THEO 134: Jews/Judaism in the World of Islam, MW 2:00-3:15pm –– Prof. Jonathan Ray

Core: Diversity/Global, College/SFS/REWA Area 3, Core: Theology

This course will explore the major intellectual and cultural trends of the Jews living in the Islamic world from the rise of Islam through the 19th century. Topics to be covered include the relationship between Judaism and Islam, the legal status of the Jews, the organization and structure of the Jewish community, and developments in the Jewish religion, philosophy, literature, and folklore. 

THEO 167: Introduction to Buddhism, TR 2:00-3:15pm –– Prof. Brandon Dotson

Core: Diversity/Global, College/SFS/REWA Area 3, Core: Theology

This course offers an introduction to Buddhism and its various historical and cultural contexts. We examine the foundational doctrines taught by the Buddha and the manner in which these were transmitted orally and in writing. We also consider the transmission of Buddhism to various countries across Asia and in the West, attending not only to doctrine, but to practice, to processes of reception and adaptation, and to various local traditions. At the end of the course, we will be familiar with the history of Buddhism, including details of its various traditions (e.g., Tibetan Buddhism, Zen), texts, and axial figures.