History | Medieval Historiography
H710 | 27201 | Deliyannis


A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to graduates only

Medieval historiography has been called "inauthentic, unscientific,
unreliable, ahistorical, irrational, borderline illiterate, and,
worse yet, unprofessional."  Historia in the Middle Ages
meant "story" or "narrative", and could refer to narrative works of
art, saints' lives, parts of the bible, the literal sense of
scriptural texts, liturgical offices, epic poems, and other texts
and objects.  "History" as we understand it was not part of the
traditional education curriculum, and, perhaps as a result, was
written in a large variety of genres and styles.

Historical texts are extremely important sources of information for
historians of all different aspects of medieval culture; however,
before 'facts' can be extracted from them, we must understand why
and how those pieces of information are included in the first
place.  In this course we will examine some of the major historical
and biographical works written during the Middle Ages, as well as
modern scholarly studies of these texts.  We will consider the
research methods of these authors, the sources and models that they
used, and the different formats in which they arranged their
information to fulfill their own personal, political, and literary
aspirations.  We will then discuss what kinds of information can be
acquired from them, and what their limitations as sources are.

For the most part, we will be reading modern studies and significant
chunks of the original texts side-by-side.  All of the works that we
will read for class will be in English translation; however, for the
paper, you should feel free to work on an untranslated text if you
wish, and in any case, whatever text you choose to work on, you
should consult it in the original language as well as in
translation.  Students will present short oral reports in class, and
will write a research paper on one text or genre of texts.