East Asian Languages and Cultures | Issues in East Asian Cult. Hist.: The Medieval World
E203 | 16246 | Keirstead

3 credits

How is it that a period that seems so closely identified with
Europe, with knights and Gothic cathedrals, with the rituals of
homage and fief, has been adopted so widely? Across Eurasia,
cultures that had little or no contact with one another are now seen
as having had a medieval period. In part the answer may be the
appearance of similar phenomena: knights in Europe, samurai in
Japan, for example. Or barbarian invasions (in China and Europe) and
walled cities (everywhere except Japan). In part, too, the answer
has to do with how historians, trained in European methods, have
organized the past in mimicry of European history. In this course
we'll work our way back and forth across Eurasia during the period
between roughly 700 and 1400. We'll try to identify similar
processes operating in different societies, but we'll remain alert
to the possibility that historians, in claiming that these disparate
societies all had a Middle Ages, might be glossing over profound
differences. Lots of interesting reading, a couple of papers,
some "fun" short assignments, and a take-home final.