Fall 09 HIST 611C Advanced Readings in European History: Medieval

Thursdays 1:30-4:00 Sakamaki A201

Dr. Karen Jolly

Sakamaki A408 http://www2.hawaii.edu/~kjolly 956-7673 kjolly@hawaii.edu

This course is an introduction to medieval studies focused on both historical methods and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of medieval European cultures. We will address the topic of what is “the text” both from a material standpoint of the text as artifact—using paleography, codicology, and archaeology—and in a theoretical framework, the text as a representation of the medieval past in post-modern and post-colonial discourse. Students are expected to participate in weekly discussion of the readings, write a series of reviews, and produce a final project analyzing a primary source in its manuscript context(s). The last 30 minutes of each class day from Sept. 24 through Nov.19 is reserved for discussion of the Manuscript Studies book, which will keep us grounded in the materiality of the texts

Required Texts

Recommended Texts

Grading (see assignment guidelines)

Schedule (see detailed list of readings)

Assignment Guidelines

Book Reviews: Written and Oral

For the “selections” weeks, each student will pick a book to read and review. During class, each student will give a presentation on their book as well as distribute a copy of their written review in advance via Laulima.

The oral presentation should take 10-15 minutes and include a brief summary of the book’s main ideas (NOT a description of the contents), its contributions to the field, and relevance to our seminar’s themes, with comparisons to other materials we have read. The presentation should include questions or thoughts leading to a class discussion of the issues.

The written review should be 4-5 pages double-spaced (12 point) and be modeled on the kinds of reviews found in scholarly journals (American Historical Review, Speculum). The review should analyze the book’s thesis, cogency of its arguments, use of evidence, and its historiographical context. A description of the contents should only be included as part of an analysis of the book’s structure and contributions. Reviews should be uploaded to Laulima 24 hours before class so students have a chance to skim them before we meet.

Final Project: Written and Oral

The goal of this project is to take a medieval “text” broadly defined and run it to ground: where did it come from, how is it disseminated and reproduced, what does that mean for our understanding and use of that text as a piece of historical evidence. The text should be a single item of some kind—a poem, treatise, charter, homily, diary, letter, monument, or any artifact that involves written words in any medieval language.

The easiest way to proceed is to work backwards from the present to the “original” source: start with the modern translations and critical editions, trace those back to the manuscript or artifact origins, and examine what we learn by seeing the text in its material context. How many versions are there? How many manuscripts or copies of it are extant? What are their dates and provenance? What else is in the surrounding pages? How has it been edited, collated, translated, or reproduced? What has happened to it between its medieval production and its modern appearance as an artifact of the past?

For example, the poem Beowulf exists in only one version in one manuscript with no agreement on either the date of the manuscript or the date of the poem, although the poem is now considered “canonical” and reproduced in innumerable media today. In other cases, a largely forgotten but popular medieval text may exist in multiple manuscripts from different eras and places but with variations in spelling, content, glosses, translations, and contiguous texts. What does this evidence suggest about the nature of the text, its audiences, and uses then and now?

Because it may take several tries to find a viable text for your project, and to avoid overlap, you should begin searching out possibilities immediately and be prepared to discuss your choices on Sept. 10. We will periodically discuss the projects in class to get updates. On Dec. 10, each student will make a 15 minute presentation with visuals explaining what you discovered. The final paper, 10-15 pages double-spaced, is due Dec. 17 and should be submitted electronically to Dr. Jolly. Citations should use Chicago Manual of Style Humanities footnotes (not author-date in-text citation).

Readings (subject to change)

created 08/25/09 updated 10/22/09