The following are a sampling of the course offerings that allow students to explore interests in the medieval world.


100-level courses

Prof. Mauro Nobili

HIST 111 History of Africa to 1800

A survey of African history to 1800, or rather African "histories." Along with historical knowledge, it seeks to give students a basic familiarity with the geography of the continent, as well as to provide an overview of African languages. Through the analysis of secondary as well as of primary sources, students will be introduced to and further examine the development of pre-colonial African societies.


Prof. Eric Calderwood

CWL 189 Literatures of the Islamic World

A comparative, cross-cultural study of major literary and cultural works from the Islamic world, broadly defined, including pre-Islamic cultures and their interactions with Islamic civilization. All readings in English.


Prof. Carson Koepke

ENG/MDV 122 The Middle Ages in Popular Culture

An opportunity to learn from our newest addition to the Medieval Studies faculty! This course explores the use of medievalism in contemporary popular culture. Instructors may draw from film, television, music, fiction, graphic novels, gaming, and other sources, and they approach the material from a variety of cultural, historical, and aesthetic traditions. The goal of the course will be to understand how the medieval periods of world cultures have been reinvented in modern times, and how modernity has been constructed in relation and in opposition to the medieval imaginary.

200-level courses

Prof. Walker Horsfall

CWL/MDVL/REL/SCAN 251 Viking Mythology

This course studies the pre-Christian beliefs of the North Germanic peoples as reflected primarily in medieval Icelandic prose and poetry texts (in translation), place names, runic inscriptions, and archaeological finds from late Iron Age and Viking Age Scandinavia. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the worldview and culture of the Viking Age and Scandinavian Middle Ages, be able to name and identify main deities and mythological beings and their characteristics, and discuss how and, above all, why myths of such content were preserved in the Middle Ages, especially in Icelandic texts.


Prof. Gian Piero Persiani

EALC275/CWL275 Masterpieces of East Asian Literature 

A wide-ranging introduction to the literatures of traditional China, Korea, and Japan. We read selections from novels, plays, and poems to gain insight into the  cultures that produced them and hone our skills in textual analysis. At various points in the course, we also explore how influential texts are repackaged and reinterpreted for modern audiences in media such as film and manga.


REL/CWL 223  The Qur’an

An introduction to the holy scripture of Islam, examining its major doctrines, thematic development, literary style, and its relationship to pre-Qur'anic, especially Biblical, traditions. Special attention is given to various methods Muslims have used to interpret the Qur'an.


Prof. Dov Weiss

REL/CWL 283 Jewish Sacred Literature

This course introduces students to the great literary works of the Jewish tradition from the time of Jesus until the Early Modern Period. The class will read and reflect upon a rich array of Jewish texts from a number of genres including philosophy, mysticism (Kabbalah), prayer, poetry, history and law. Attention will be given not only to content and form, but also to the historical and social context that gave rise to these important masterpieces. No prior knowledge of the Jewish tradition is necessary.

300-level courses


Prof. Megan Eagen-Jones

MUS 313 The History of Music I

Survey of music and its development in Western civilization to about 1750. Emphasis on an acquaintance with representative musical works and style, and on understanding musical concepts in the light of their historical and general cultural context.

400-level courses

Prof. Heather Grossman

ARCH 412 Medieval Architecture

This course examines the architecture, monumental arts-in-space, and broader built environment of the eastern/Byzantine and western European Middle Ages from the third to the fifteenth century C.E. We will examine how architecture and its spaces shaped medieval daily life, religious experience, and political and civic spectacle. The course integrates the study of the architecture and its related arts (monumental painting, mosaics, furnishings) with the study of medieval culture and society, exploring the roles of royal courts and secular, civil authority; religious performance and observance; crusading and trade; and rising urbanism. The course will proceed chronologically, with thematic and topical issues simultaneously addressed; attention will be paid to moments of cross-cultural interaction and exchange between northwestern Europe, the eastern and western Mediterranean, north and sub-Saharan Africa, and the Islamic world. We will also look at the (mis)use of the medieval in our modern world, including in politics and culture.


Dr. Kate Newton

ENGL 407 Introduction to Old English

An introduction to the form of English spoken and written prior to about AD 1100. Exploring concepts of cultural, historical, and linguistic change, students will learn to read Old English texts in the original. Readings include examples from the prose tradition (e.g., Bede's story of the poet Cædmon and Ælfric's Lives of Saints) as well as poetic texts (e.g., The Dream of the Rood and The Wanderer).


Prof. Marc Abou Abdallah

HIST 433/REL 434 History of Jews in Diaspora

Drawing on a wide variety of primary and secondary textual and archeological sources - ranging from letters, scriptures, ceramics, to official documents – we study the ways in which the people of Israel, the Jewish people defined themselves in the end of the second millennium BC. We analyze the Babylonian Exile, which was a period when the people of Israel refashioned its collective and individual identities. We examine the revolution of Bar-Kokhba in AD 132-135, and the dispersion of Jews in the Roman Empire, and in Arabia as well. We study the interaction between the exiled Jewish diaspora communities and their non-Jewish neighbors since antiquity until1948, as well as on changes internal to the Jewish communities. We analyze the ways in which Jewish communities refashioned their collective and individual identities between WWI and 1948, and which led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.


Prof. Brian Walters

LAT 460 Medieval Latin 

A survey of literary and historical texts in prose and poetry, read in the original; the course will also cover patristic writings.


Prof. Dov Weiss

REL 419 Jesus and Judaism

Examines the ways Jews over the last two thousand years thought about, polemicized against, and celebrated, Jesus of Nazareth. The course will cover numerous types of Jewish literature including, but not limited to, folk stories and Talmudic teachings (from Late Antiquity), published letters, polemical treatises, law codes, philosophical tracts, and mystical writings (from the Middle Ages) and, lastly, works of Reform theology, ecumenical treatises, Zionist literature, and Jewish artistic expressions (in the Modern Period).

500-level courses


Prof. James Pilgrim

ARTH 530 Early Modern Venice: Ecology, Geography, and Visual Culture

This graduate seminar will explore the ecological and geographical dimensions of the visual and material culture of late medieval and early modern (ca. 1400-1600) Venice, a city that is famously—and indeed perilously—located on the cusp of the land and sea. Readings drawn from primary sources, art and architectural history, environmental history, social and cultural history, urbanism, and cultural geography. Topics will include the artistic reflections upon Venice's unique ecology; the centuries-old challenge of maintaining the city’s physical infrastructure; art, architecture, and Mediterranean trade and colonialism; Venetian self-representation; architecture, engineering, and terraforming on the Italian mainland; the Venetian pastoral tradition.


Prof. Bonnie Mak

IS 583 History of the Book
Explores the role of the book in the production and transmission of knowledge through time. Major themes include the design, materiality, and performance of reading and writing technologies. Particular attention will be paid to the graphic representation and visualization of information across media. Students will examine different approaches to the study of books and documents, including those of palaeography, diplomatics, bibliography, art history, musicology, textual criticism, digital humanities, and new media studies