History | Western Europe-Early Middle Ages
B351 | 3109 | Shopkow


Above section open to undergraduates only
Above section carries culture studies credit
Above section meets with WEUR W405

This is the first course of a two-semester survey of the history of
the Middle Ages; the second half, B352 will be given in the spring
semester.    Most surveys of the Middle Ages concentrate on the
experience of western Europeans between about 400 and 1500. This
approach grew out of an earlier historical tradition in which the
history of Europe was seen as being of primary importance, because
Europe came to dominate the world economically in the sixteenth
century.

However, Western Europe was only one of the regions around a shared
body of water, the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire also lay on
the Mediterranean, as did a succession of Islamic empires and
states. The entire Mediterranean world had been part of the Roman
Empire, and thus the "Heirs of the Roman Empire" had some common
cultural antecedents, as well as unique cultural features. While the
European tradition will predominate in this course, we'll also
consider the political, religious, and cultural developments in the
Islamic/Islamist and Byzantine regions and try to think about the
three comparatively. We will also think about points of contact and
cultural exchange between the three regions. We will read primary
documents from all three cultures. The course will culminate at the
end of the eleventh century.  Skills: The emphasis in this course
will be on helping students to develop their ability to read and
interpret primary sources (sources from The Middle Ages themselves)
and to write more effectively.  Each week, in addition to textbook
reading, we will read one or more primary source readings and take
some time to discuss these in class.

Assignments: three essays (4-5 pp) over the primary source readings,
a midterm exam, a paper (10 pp.), and a comprehensive final
examination.