For the most recent information, please refer to the directory.

Art History

Gothic Architecture
Stephen Murray
GR6200, W 12:10-2 pm

How have “Gothic” edifices been represented in words and images? This course examines great monuments of Gothic architecture and considers the historiography and theories that they have generated. Our approach is based upon the premise that the notion of  “Gothic” has been constructed as much with words and stories as with masonry, wood and glass. We will try to find a balance between the intense engagement with the buildings themselves, many of them now available with newly-created high-resolution photographs and panoramic views, and the theories and stories that have been woven around those buildings. In order to narrate the story of Gothic we will bring on three eyewitnesses and the buildings they represented: Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, Gervase, monk of Canterbury and Villard de Honnecourt, with this extraordinary images of Reims, Laon and Cambrai Cathedrals.  In this way we will encounter a series of great buildings belonging to the period 1140 to 1240 and we will also consider the way these buildings may be woven together within a story or plot and how they relate to the larger field of architectural production. We will also consider the production of Gothic and the production of meaning. We will extend the story of Gothic to embrace the phenomenon of “change” both in regional manifestations and in the continuing “development” of forms associated with Late Gothic.

Edo Period Painting
Matthew P. McKelway
GR8128 001, W 2:10 – 4 pm

Materiality and the Sacred
Holger A. Klein
GR8203 001, M 4:10 – 6 pm

The ‘material turn’ in the humanities and humanistic social sciences and the rise of ‘thing theory’ as a distinct field of study, has, over the last two decades, re-invigorated the study of relics and reliquaries, ‘things’ that oscillate between inanimate ‘objects’ and animate ‘subjects’. Building on a rich body of historical, art historical, and anthropological literature, this graduate seminar explores the ‘material rhetoric’ of a distinct collection of Western medieval reliquaries and liturgical objects that from part of the so-called Guelph Treasure, the largest and culturally most significant ecclesiastical treasures to survive from Medieval Germany.

Italian Renaissance Drawings
Michael Cole
GR8301 001, W 2:10 – 4 pm

Armor as Art
Diane Bodart
GR8314 001, T 2:10 – 4 pm

In the Early Renaissance, armor underwent a technical revolution, which transformed the body of the warrior into a moving statue, entirely covered by shining large metal plates. Armor served defensive and offensive purposes in warfare, but it was also a luxury item that could be worn in festivals. Armor offered a display, changing the image of the man (or occasionally, the woman) who wore it. Ornaments, first engraved and gilded, later embossed in high relief, covered progressively its whole surface, wrapping the wearer’s body with images. Those images could have symbolic, religious, apotropaic functions; they gave eventually to the modern warrior the image of the ancient hero. Armor could also be used as artifact in ex-voto or reliquaries, or be entirely “artful”, part of another work’s fiction, such as heroic statues. Not least, armor was a central motif of Renaissance pictures, where it came to be associated with a range of topoi. Based on a cross-analysis of works, primary sources, technical and scientific datas, historical and theoretical issues, the course will look at the ways in which armor constituted both an object and a subject of art.

Calligraphy in East Asia
Robert Harrist & Matthew P. McKelway
GR8609 001, T 4:10 – 6 pm

Prerequisites: Background in Chinese or Japanese art The goal of this class is to study major developments in the history of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy from the beginning of writing in East Asia through the modern period.  In addition to examining the works of individual calligraphers, we will attempt to understand how the history of calligraphy has been written, both in East Asian and in the West, how calligraphy conveys meaning, and why it has been valued above all other arts in China and Japan.  We will give special attention to works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where several seminar sessions will be held.

Comparative Literature and Society

Blood/Lust: Staging the Early Modern Mediterranean
Patricia Grieve
GR6454, W 12:10 – 2

This course examines, in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represent national and imperial clashes, and the concepts of being “Spanish,” “English,” or “Turk,” as well as the dynamic and fluid identities of North Africa, often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, and the Ottoman Empire.

East Asian Languages and Cultures

Graduate Seminar in Premodern Japanese Literature
Haruo Shirane
GR8040 001, T 1:10 – 4 pm

Prerequisites: JPNS W4007-W4008 or the equivalent, and the instructor’s permission.

English and Comparative Literature

Introduction to Old English
Patricia Dailey
GU4091, TR 11:40 am – 12:55 pm

This class is an introduction to the language and literature of England from around the 8th to the 11th centuries. Because this is predominantly a language class, we will spend much of our class time studying grammar as we learn to translate literary and non-literary texts. While this course provides a general historical framework for the period as it introduces you to the culture of Anglo-Saxon England, it will also take a close look at how each literary work contextualizes (or recontextualizes) relationships between human and divine, body and soul, individual and group, animal and human. We will be using Mitchell and Robinson’s An Introduction to Old English, along with other supplements. We will be looking at recent scholarly work in the field and looking at different ways (theoretical, and other) of reading these medieval texts. Requirements: Students will be expected to do assignments for each meeting. The course will involve a mid-term, a final exam, and a final presentation on a Riddle which will also be turned in.

Writing Early Modern London
Alan Stewart
GU4210, MW 8:40 – 9:55 am

Writing Early Modern London explores the literature that represented, was created for, and was inspired by the city of London in the early modern period.   It will encourage students to analyze the ways in which literature relates to its geographical, social, cultural, religious and political contexts—in this case, the very specific contexts provided by a single city in the period from 1500 and 1700.  It will cover such topics as London’s experience in the Reformation; London’s suburban expansion; the Civil War and Restoration; the Great Fire and the subsequent rebuilding; London’s government, and relations with the Crown; social issues including immigration, unrest, the place of women, the place of strangers, the plague, and prostitution.  The course will highlight the importance of London as the hub of print publication, and as the site for the public theater—it will therefore deal predominantly with drama but also draw on prose pamphlets, entries, maps, diaries, prospects, and a poetic mock-will.

Milton in Context
Julie Crawford
GU4211, TR 1:10 – 2:25 pm

This course will look at the major works of John Milton in the context of 17th-century English religious, political and social events. In addition to reading Milton’s poems, major prose (including The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Areopagitica, and The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth), and the full texts of Paradise Lost and Sampson Agonistes (the course text will be Orgel and Goldberg, eds. John Milton), we will look at the authors and radicals whose activities and writings helped to provide the contexts for Milton’s own: poets and polemicists, sectarians and prophets, revolutionaries and regicides, Diggers and Levelers. Requirements for this course include two short primary research papers (3 pp.) and an exam. Graduate students will also be required to write a seminar paper.

Visionary Dramas and Dramatic Visions
Eleanor Johnson
GU4791, TR 10:10 – 11:25 am

This class is designed to interrogate the genre-boundary that has traditionally separated visionary writings from dramatic ones in the study of English medieval literature. Although this separation has long existed in scholarship, it is deeply problematic, and produces an understanding of the relationship between private devotion and publically performed religious ritual that is untenable, and does considerable violence to our understanding of the medieval imagination. As we will see, notionally “private” visionary writings and notionally “public” dramatic writings have a great deal in common, not just in terms of their overt content, but also in terms of their formal construction, their poetic devices, their favorite rhetorical maneuvers, and their articulated relationship with history and English literature. The works we will read this term are all phenomenally strange, many of them extremely difficult because of their unfamiliarity. For this reason, we will divide the semester into three sections: the first will deal with the famous medieval cycle dramas, which narrate events from the New Testament. The second section will transition to examine three important visionary texts that were written between 1370 and 1430, contemporaneous with the efflorescence of dramatic composition and performance in England, and two late Antique visionary texts that inspired them. The final section of class will turn to examine the so-called “morality plays,” which emerge just slightly after the cycle dramas and after the visionary works we will have read. Since all of these works are linguistically challenging, we will work with translations in certain instances (Piers Plowman, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe). For all of the other works, we will be reading in Middle English, but you are welcome to consult translations, online summaries, or anything else that helps you get up to speed on what´s going on in the plays. Bear in mind, however, that your midterm and final will be based on the Middle English texts, so you do need to make a serious effort to read them (except in the case of Piers Plowman, which will be in modern English).

The Rhetorical Tradition, Classical – Renaissance
Kathy Eden
GR5120, T 4:10 – 6 pm

Major works of rhetorical theory from Greek and Roman antiquity to early modern Europe with a focus on the continuities and changes and with special attention to the forensic elements of both their inventional and stylistic strategies.

The Book in History: Literary Agencies
Karla Nielsen
GR 6229

Global Shakespeare
Julie S. Peters
GR6422 001, M 4:10 – 6 pm

In the seventeenth century, Shakespeare had already begun to serve as a vehicle of British colonial aspirations, bearing conjoined messages about nation, empire, and civilization, justifying cultural domination, and serving as the touchstone of literacy for new British subjects.  At the same time, the multiple geographies of the plays themselves—moving across “The Globe” from Inverness to Libya, Syria to Navarre, the “seacoast of Bohemia” to the never-never-island of The Tempest—helped to destabilize their meaning, revealing “more things on heaven and earth” than British Shakespeare missionaries might ever have dreamt.  In the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, rapidly changing media, the acceleration of global communication, norms of interpretive innovation, and the desire to turn imperial cultural tools against themselves combined not only to multiply the number of Shakespeare productions but to diversify still further their settings and implications.  In this course, we will examine adaptations of Shakespeare (primarily on film) by directors working in a variety of media, languages, and places.  Close reading of performance and cinematic detail will undergird broader discussions of how media, politics, economics, local, national, and cosmopolitan identities (and more) shape interpretation.


Early Modern Europe: Print and Society
Elisheva Carlebach
GR6998 003, MW 10:10 – 11:25 am

Standing at the intersection of the religious, cultural, and scientific upheavals within early modern Europe, the study of print and its intersection with culture allows students to learn how shifts in technology (much like those we are witnessing today) affect every aspect of society. This course will examine the signal cultural, political, and religious developments in early modern Western Europe, using the introduction and dissemination of printed materials as a fulcrum and entry point. From the sixteenth century Europeans were confronted with a technological revolution whose cultural consequences were incalculable and whose closest parallel might be the age of electronic information technology in our own day. From the Reformation of Luther, to the libelles of pre-revolutionary France, from unlocking the mysteries of the human body to those of the heavens, from humanist culture to the arrival of the novel, no important aspect of European culture in the sixteen- through eighteenth centuries can be understood without factoring in the role of print: its technology, its marketing and distribution channels, and its creation of new readers and new “republics.” This course will examine key political, religious, and cultural movements in early modern western European history through the prism of print culture.

Islam and Europe in the Middle Ages
Adam Kosto
GR6999 003
M 2:10 – 4 pm

Jews in Early Modern Europe
Elisheva Carlebach
GR6999, T 10:10 am – 12 pm

A seminar on the historical, political, and cultural developments in the Jewish communities of early-modern Western Europe (1492-1789) with particular emphasis on the transition from medieval to modern patterns. We will study the resettlement of Jews in Western Europe, Jews in the Reformation-era German lands, Italian Jews during the late Renaissance, the rise of Kabbalah, and the beginnings of the quest for civil Emancipation.

Colloquium in Atlantic History
Christopher L. Brown
GR8176 001, T 2:10 – 4 pm

This colloquium provides an intensive exploration of the Atlantic World during the early modern era.  Readings will attend to the sequence of contact, conquest, and dispossession that enabled the several European empires to gain political and economic power.  In this regard, particular attention will be given to the role of commerce and merchant capitalism in the formation of the Atlantic World.  The course will focus also, however, on the dynamics of cultural exchange, on the two-way influences that pushed the varied peoples living along the Atlantic to develop new practices, new customs, and new tastes.  Creative adaptations in the face of rapid social and cultural change will figure prominently in the readings.  Students may expect to give sustained attention the worlds Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans both made together and made apart.

Craft & Science: Crafting Objects in the Early Modern World
Pamela Smith
GR8906, M 10:10 am – 2 pm

This course will study the materials, techniques, settings, and meanings of skilled craft and artistic practices in the early modern period (1350-1750), in order to reflect upon a series of issues, including craft knowledge and artisanal epistemology; the intersections between craft and science; and questions of historical methodology and evidence in the reconstruction of historical experience. The course will be run as a “Laboratory Seminar,” with discussions of primary and secondary materials, as well as text-based research and hands-on work in a laboratory. This course is one component of the Making and Knowing Project of the Center for Science and Society, and contributes to the collective production of a transcription, English translation, and critical edition of a late sixteenth-century manuscript in French, Ms. Fr. 640. In 2014-15, the course concentrated on mold-making and metalworking; in 2015-16, on colormaking; in 2016-17, on natural history.  In 2017-18 students will research printmaking, the context of the manuscript, and choose an area of focus from among the manuscript’s diverse subjects.

Comparative Topics in Religious History
Caterina Pizzigoni, Neslihan Senocak
GR8915 001, W 10:10 am – 12 pm


The Qur’an in Europe
Pier Mattia Tommasino
GU4022, TR 10:10 – 11:25 am

Is the Qur’an translatable? Was the Qur’an translated? Are non Arabic-speaking Muslims allowed to translate the Qur’an? And what about non-Muslims? Did Muslims and non-Muslims collaborate in translating the text of the Qur’an into Latin and European vernaculars? This course focuses on the long history of the diffusion of the Qur’an, the Scripture of the Muslims, and one of the most important texts in the history of humanity. We will focus on reading and translation practices of the Qur’an in Europe and the Mediterranean, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary world. We will explore how European Muslims, such as Iberian moriscos, European Jews, as well as Orthodox, Protestants and Catholics read, copied, collected, translated and printed the Qur’an. We will also explore why the Qur’an was confuted, forbidden, burned and even eaten, drunk and worn along eight centuries of the history of Europe. This long excursus, based on a close reading of the Qur’an and on the discussion of the major themes this close reading proposes, will help us to understand the role of Islam and its revelation in the formation of European societies and cultures.

Italian Renaissance Literature and Culture
Jo Ann Cavallo
GU4043, W 4:10 – 6 pm

This course on Italian Renaissance literature and culture will pay special attention to the crossing of boundaries, whether socio-cultural, religious, linguistic, gendered, ethnic, or strictly geographical, in a range of fourteenth- to early seventeenth-century texts in a variety of genres, including travelogue, chivalric epic poetry, comedy, dialogues, and the novella, as well as political, philosophical, and scientific writing. Authors covered include Marco Polo, Leonardo Bruni, Pico della Mirandola, Boiardo, Ariosto, Machiavelli Castiglione, Beolco, Giraldi Cinzio, Tasso, Moderata Fonte, Tarabotti, and Galileo.

Latin American & Iberian Studies

Jesús R. Velasco
GR6244 001, R 1 – 3 pm

In this seminar we will study the vocabulary and practices of intellectual elaboration and composition during the pre-modern eras, within the context of Philosophical and Scientific Fictions. Some of our fields of inquiry will be: Iberian Studies, Mediterranean Studies, Medieval Theory and Philosophy, Manuscript Studies, and History of the Book. We will investigate these fields in dialogue with the construction and development of pre-modern disciplines.
We will to focus on mainstream views of intellectual creation, including poetics, rhetorics, dialectic, problem-creation, the lie as an intellectual fabrication, narrative of the self, oneirocriticism, legal fiction, sacred and lay exegesis, miracles, fables, and poetry with music. The survey covers two parts (scientific discipline versus experience) that hinge on the particular and even central problem of the narrative of the self—and in a way we will be traveling back and forth between discipline and experience trying not to disentangle them too much. This focus—perhaps a bit obscure for now—will become more evident as we read the different texts.
My suggested and recommended readings cover many other texts from the Antiquity to the (very) Early Modern period. In this sense, I aim to forge a broad intellectual context for a set of Iberian texts that might be considered within a theoretical survey of Medieval Iberian cultures.

Medieval & Renaissance Studies
Only for students in the M.A. program

Medieval & Renaissance Philology

MA Thesis

Directed Individual Readings


Seminar in Historical Musicology: Baroque
Giuseppe Gerbino
GR8105 001, M 4:10 – 6 pm


Topics in Early Modern Philosophy
John Morrison
GR9670, W 12:10 – 2 pm