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Courses, Summer & Fall 2017

The following MEMS sections will be offered in the Summer B term 2017:

Love and Marriage in the Middle Ages

MEM3931 sec 4B95 (also EUH 3942)
Professor Florin Curta (History)

For full information, see this description:

Migration, Mobility, and Travel

MEM 3931 sec. 4C18 (also EUH 3931)

Professor Joseph Houle (History)

Migration, mobility, and travel were the normal state of human life for the majority of our biological existence. It was only with the development of agriculture and the rise of cities that human beings became a sedentary population, for whom mobility, travel, and migration became the exception rather than the rule. However, the development of technologies of travel and communication have over the last few thousand years made it possible for people to travel and migrate more quickly and easily than ever before. These movements have reconnected us to once disparate ideas from across the globe. Simultaneously, however, these movements have brought people into conflict. This course will explore the history of humanity on the Earth through the ways that travel and migration both free us and constrain us, both open our minds to new possibilities and generate power dynamics based on perceived difference that result in inequality and oppression.

This course will count for World History credit. It covers a broad timespan, from the beginnings of human history to the present, but the focus will be on the Medieval and Early Modern periods as crucial moments of change in the history of mobility.

The following MEMS sections will be offered in the Fall term 2017:

Jewish History from the Spanish Expulsion to the Eve of the Enlightenment

MEM 3931 sec. 1C18 (also EUH 3671)

Professor Nina Caputo (History)

This course will survey major trends in Jewish society from the break-up of the medieval world to the emergence of a new order in 18th century Europe. We will trace the transition of Jewish society towards modernity by following the varieties of cultural, social, and religious life among communities of Jewish exiles from Spain from 1492 through the early 18th century.​

Medieval Germany

MEM 3931 sec. 1C17 (also EUH 3473)

Professor Florin Curta (History)

For full information, see this description:

(Professor Curta will also teach a graduate course, EUH 6174: Conversion in the Middle Ages. Interested MEMS students enrolled in the 4-1 MA program in History should contact Professor Curta.)

French Fairy Tales

MEM 3931 sec. 1C02 (also FRT 3004)

Professor Rori Bloom (LLC/ French and Francophone Studies)

This course taught in English (with literary texts available in French for those who prefer) will center on the “invention” of the fairy tale by Charles Perrault in late seventeenth-century France.  Perrault was the first to write down such stories as Cinderella, Puss in boots, and Sleeping Beauty, but his little book of Mother Goose tales was part of a larger movement of fairy tale writing.  We will begin with a look at fairies in medieval France, spend time reading 17th century tales by Perrault, Aulnoy, Murat and their contemporaries, and then we will look at nineteenth and twentieth century rewritings of fairy tales as well as film versions.  Throughout the course, secondary readings (by Propp, Bettelheim, Soriano, Darnton, Hannon, and others) will help us understand the tales from formalist, psychoanalytical, historical, and feminist perspectives.

Pre-modern Chinese Fiction in Translation

MEM 3931 sec.1C16 (also CHT 3123)
Professor Richard Wang (LLC/Chinese)

Pre-modern Chinese narrative from its philosophical and historical origins to the fiction at the turn of the 20th century. Emphasizes the 16th and 17th centuries when Chinese vernacular fiction flourished. (H and N)

Medieval French Literature:  Epic, Romance, Allegory

FRE 4930/FRW 6938
Professor William Calin (LLC/French and Francophone Studies)

Christian heroism, romantic love, and chivalry, and psychological analysis — these are not universals in the human condition. In the modern West they are historical constructs that first came into being in medieval France. This course will focus on the structure and functioning of the new cultural entities and on the narrative genres in which they flourished. We shall scrutinize the relationship of literature to historical reality (the mindset of a feudal-aristocratic and classical-Christian culture, attitudes toward women, etc) and the working of the literature itself applying modern critical approaches. Readings in Old French/Modern French. Class conducted in English.

Dante’s Inferno

MEM 4931 sec 1C09 (also ITW4600)

Professor Mary Watt (LLC/Italian)

This course will take students on a semester-long journey through the underworld as imagined by the fourteenth century writer Dante Alighieri. The primary source will be Dante’s Inferno but the course will be enhanced with visual materials and will make full use of the many digital resources devoted to the study of Dante and his world. Special attention will be paid to the political, historical and religious context in which Dante was writing but the main point of the course will be to give students an appreciation of the masterful narrative that Dante weaves and the enduring beauty of his poetry. Taught in Italian.

Engineering the Renaissance

MEM 3931 sec 1B49 (also IDH 2931)

Professors Will Hasty (LLC/German Studies) and Mark E. Law (Engineering)

The course will introduce students to pivotal moments in technological innovation and to the physics underlying those changes in the European Renaissance. The course aims to provide students with an understanding of the ideals and practical exigencies that motivated engineers and artists to transform their communities, through the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge. The course is designed to harmonize content from the sciences and the humanities. No engineering or history background is expected.