History | Medieval Cultures in Contact
B200 | 4489 | Peterson

During the high and late Middle Ages Europe was expanding both its
borders and its knowledge of the world through trade, missionary
activity, the Crusades, and political conquest.  This course focuses
on the interaction between medieval Europe and cultures that
European society perceived as different during this period:  pagans
in Scandinavia; the Mongols of Eurasia; Muslims in Spain and in the
Holy Land; Christians in Byzantium and Ireland; and the people they
encountered on the trade routes to the Far East.  How did the
Europeans react to those people they identified as “foreign”?  What
made these societies different?  How did medieval Europeans respond
to this difference?  Issues will include how “alien” peoples were
characterized, if Europe represented the different groups they
encountered similarly, how this process of identifying other
cultures might have aided the construction of a European identity,
and how non-European cultures, the “foreigners,” viewed European
peoples in turn.  The course will be a combination of lecture and
discussion.  The grade will be based on two short papers (2-3 pp.),
one quiz, attendance and participation, and one group presentation.