HIST 229 - Topics in European History
Credits: 3 credit in fall or winter; 4 in spring
A course offered from time to time depending on student interest and staff availability, on a selected topic or problem in European history. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.
Fall 2019, HIST 229A-01: Topic: Medieval Mystics (3). Mysticism was a fundamental category of devotional experience across the religions of the Middle Ages. Yet to modern observers, mystics can seem bizarre, dangerous, and irrational. What was mystical experience, what could it do? What does it mean to see and hear things when no one else does? And how should moderns with no religious affiliation tell the history of those who experienced the divine entering into human events? Key topics addressed include: science and religion; gender and sexuality; heresy, self-harm, and embodiment; notions of “proof” and authority; and the political weight of mystical experience. (HU) Vise.
Spring 2020, HIST 229-01: Topic: The World of The Decameron (3). No prerequisite. In 1349, the year after the Black Death visited his homeland, Giovanni Boccaccio began work on the piece of literature for which he may be best remembered: The Decameron. A frame narrative set in plague-ridden Florence itself, the text’s protagonists escape to the countryside and tell 100 stories over the course of 10 days. For centuries, historians of the plague turned to Boccaccio’s description of the disease to craft their histories of plague. We investigate the historicity behind, historical merits of, and modern engagement with this giant of the Italian literary canon. Students perform a guided reading of most of the individual tales as well as of the structure of the text as a whole, study modern film remakes, complete team-based homework assignments, and submit a final podcast project. (HU) Vise.
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