Dr. Karen Jolly

University of Hawai`i at Manoa

History 434, Spring 1998

office: Sakamaki A408 956-7673

office hours: Tues 1:30-2:30 p.m.; Wed 9-11 a.m. or by appointment





Go to Medieval Main Page Go to Jolly vita page


The emphasis of this course is on the historical development of western European Christianity within the context of world history. Although our primary focus is the European cultural context for the religion, we will examine it in relation to other cultures and traditions. Two major thematic constructs govern the class: 1) prophecy and order as a creative tension in the development of European Christianity, discussed in the Russell textbook; 2) tradition and diversity, explored in the primary source readings book. We will read and analyze primary sources on diverse topics such as heterodox Christianity, heresy, death rituals, religious acculturation, Christian kingship, church and state conflicts, mysticism, faith and reason, multiple views of the Crusades, scholasticism, and cross-cultural religious dialogue.

As an upper division, writing-intensive history course, this class seeks to foster skills in historical analysis through reading, discussion, and writing. Class meetings will focus on the discussion and analysis of the primary source materials and will include writing workshops and other in-class writing activities to assist students in developing their ideas for the papers. Students will write two thought papers on the readings and a final paper on a topic of their own choosing. This course also makes use of the World Wide Web for supplementary resources; students are encouraged to explore the Web for their papers.



Russell, Jeffrey B., A History of Medieval Christianity: Prophecy and Order (1968).

Jolly, Karen, Tradition and Diversity: Christianity in a World Context to 1500 (1997).

General World Wide Web resources:

Labyrinth (Central clearing house for medieval studies)

ORB (Online Resource Book for medieval studies)

Medieval Sourcebook

Ecole Initiative (early church history)

Catholic Encyclopedia


This class is designated writing-intensive, which means that we will be working on the writing process throughout the course. We will do a variety of kinds of writing, both in-class exercises and at-home papers. Attendance and participation is therefore essential to success in this course. The grade percentages are as follows:

In-class writing and discussion: 10%

Paper One 25% Paper Two 25%

Final Paper 40%


Some advice on how to read:



Since the class is writing-intensive and discussion-oriented, a good deal of the learning takes place during class sessions in a way that cannot be duplicated afterward. If you are unexpectedly absent due to illness or a crisis, call or email me and then see me as soon as possible to make up lost work.

Late papers create chaos both for your schedule and mine; consequently, unless a documented excuse is presented, any late work will be docked 5 points per day. In particular, Students are strongly encouraged to begin their final paper project early and to keep to the schedule of deadlines in order to avoid problems at the end of the course. For everyone to receive maximum benefit from the writing feedback in the last week, students must have a full-length rough draft ready to read at the closing sessions.


The Russell numbers at the beginning of each new section refer to the chapters in his book A History of Medieval Christianity. Numbers and titles for each class day refer to the readings book, Tradition and Diversity.

Foundations of Christianity c. 50-450 R i-ii

01/13 Introductions

01/15 1 Jew and Gentile: Early Origins of Christianity Study Bible; Early Church Documents

01/20 2 Christian and Roman: Conflict and Assimilation Diocletian Edicts of Persecution; Church Fathers (See Ante-Nicene Fathers to 325, vols. I-IV and Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vols. 1-2)

01/22 3 Heterodoxy and Orthodoxy: Defining Heresy Arian Controversy; Docetism

01/27 4 Life and Death: The Body and Resurrection Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers vol. V: Gregory of Nyssa

Patterns of Accommodation in Late Antiquity c. 350-750 Russell iii-v

01/29 5 The Heritage of the Middle Ages Christian Late Antiquity; Augustine; CCEL Church Fathers (NPNF Series I, vol I-VIII for Augustine); Jerome's Vulgate; Jerome's Letters; Boethius

02/03 6 The Power of Christian Saints: Monks, Relics, Icons Monasticism; Iconoclasm

02/05 7 Adaptations of Christianity Outside the Roman World

Broad selections: Byzantium; Islam; Judaism

More diversity: Zoroastrian Creed; Hypatia of Alexandria

02/10 8 Christian Acculturation in Western Europe

The Germanic Impact; The Celtic World; Bede; Mission of St. Augustine; Boniface; Leoba

Christian Society in the Early Middle Ages c. 600-1050 R v-vi

02/12 9 Christian Kingship and Society

The Roman Church

02/17 10 Christian Education and Theology

02/19 11 Christian Practice and Literature

02/24 12 Christian Diversity and Accommodation

02/26 Paper 1 Workshop

Paper 1 Question: Examine the issue of tradition and diversity in Late Antique and early medieval Christianity: How and why does Christianity both maintain its identity as a religious belief system and yet change as it adapts to new cultural circumstances? What does it mean to be a Christian in this period? due 3/03

The Spirit of Order and Prophecy c. 1050-1200 R vii-ix

03/03 13 Corporate and Individual Reform Paper 1 due

03/05 14 Christians, Muslims, and Jews: Views of the Crusades

3/10 15 Ways of Knowing: Faith and Reason

3/12 16 Individual Diversity: Bernard and Hildegard

New Paths of Order and Prophecy c. 1200-1300 Russell ix-xi

03/17 Final Paper Workshop: bring in bibliography and ideas

03/19 17 Orthodox Reform: Popes, Mendicants, and Scholars

03/31 18 Over the Line: Heretics, Inquisitors, Radicals turn in final paper thesis idea

03/23-27 Spring Recess

04/02 19 Popular Religion: Story and Poetry

04/07 20 Cross Cultural Exchange: Missions and Dialogue

04/09 Paper 2 Workshop turn in final paper outline

Paper 2 Question: Examine the dynamic and creative tension between the spirit of prophecy and the spirit of order in medieval European Christianity. How is diversity of religious experience expressed in relation to the need for order and reform in society? How are religious identities created and maintained in an increasingly diverse world? due 4/14

Change and Contact in the Late Middle Ages c. 1300-1500 Russell xii

04/14 21 Dissent and Reform in Late Medieval Christendom Paper 2 due

04/16 22 Diversity in Christianity: Late Medieval Spirituality

04/21 23 Religious Expression: Ritual, Drama, and Story

04/23 24 Cross-cultural Contact

04/28 Final Paper Workshop: bring draft of final paper

04/30 Final Paper Workshop: bring draft of final paper

05/05 Final Paper Workshop: bring draft of final paper

05/14 Final Paper due by noon


Option One: Source Analysis Paper:

Choose one of the following works and read the whole of it. Each is excerpted in the primary source readings book, Tradition and Diversity.

*Check out a recent edition of the source (translated into English) and read it.

*Check for background context or information on the place, time, circumstances. Look in the edition of the text itself, or in topic encyclopedias (of medieval history, or the Catholic Encyclopedia, etc).

*Develop a thesis or line of argument explaining the text and its context.

*Organize your paper so that the thesis is up front and background material does not dominate the paper.

Option 2: Comparative Paper

Pick a theme from Tradition and Diversity (some are listed below) and use the index to locate relevant documents. Discuss the theme, using examples from primary sources we have read or others you have found. You may want to look up background information on the theme itself (for example, the library has many books on mysticism).

*Review the documents: what do they have in common? how do they differ? Are there changes over time?

*Define the theme, its parameters and characteristics. Look up definitions and views in the texbooks or in the library.

*Develop an argument about the theme, the way that it changes over time, or manifests itself in similar or different ways.

*Organize your paper around these arguments and comparisons. Do NOT organize your paper according to documents (one paragraph on each). DO use the documents as evidence to support your contentions.

Go to Medieval Main Page Go to Jolly vita page

kjolly@hawaii.edu revised 2/02/98