Fall 2015 Courses in Medieval and Renaissance Studies

 

ENGL 21900-01, -02 Shakespeare (HU, LA, 3b, h, TI, TIII)
CRN 20505: MWF 9:00, Friends 303
CRN 20506: MWF 10:00, Friends 303
TOPIC: Shakespeare and the Theatre of the World.
INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Matusiak, 326 Muller Faculty Center.
ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section.
PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: The sign of the original Globe theatre in 1599 is said to have included the Latin inscription Totus mundus agit histrionem—‘the whole world acts a play.’ The idea that every woman and man performs a part in the theatrum mundi (‘theatre of the world’) has long been central to the history of ideas, expressed most famously by Jaques in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage / And all the men and women merely players.” Central to Shakespearean drama is the question of whether the roles we perform are determined primarily by forces larger than ourselves—scripted in advance, as it were, by destiny, biology, or ideology—or whether we become what we are largely by crafting our own performances, thereby determining our own trajectories in life. This course invites students to explore the relationship between performance and human identity, both as Shakespeare dramatizes it and as a dimension of everyday living. Readings will include five major plays (The Taming of the ShrewAs You Like ItKing LearJulius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra) alongside theoretical works on social performance by Baldassare Castiglione, J.L. Austin, Erving Goffman, and Judith Butler.
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture / discussion.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Active class participation, close-reading exercises, formal essay, final exam.

ENGL 21900-03, -04 Shakespeare (HU, LA, 3b, h, TIII)
CRN 23487:  TR 8:00-9:15, Friends 302
CRN 20511: TR 9:25-10:40, Friends 302
INSTRUCTOR: David Kramer, Muller 322, ext. 4-1344.
ENROLLMENT: 20 per section.
PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing, or permission of the instructor.  This course may be repeated for credit provided there is no duplication of the plays studied.
OBJECTIVES:   This course will introduce Shakespeare’s theatre to both initiates and novices.  As we read the plays themselves we will study the political, religious, cultural, and scientific beliefs of Shakespeare’s time; what biography we possess and can conjecture; the workings of the Elizabethan theatre; Shakespeare’s poetic craft; his contemporary and subsequent reputation and that of individual plays; the vexed history of the texts themselves; and the forms and procedures of individual works as well as those of the genres of tragedy, comedy, romance, and history.  Using both the background of context and the foreground of the texts, we will approach larger questions of meaning, both for Shakespeare’s time and for our own.  Substantial emphasis will also be placed on the question of pleasure–why these plays pleased and still do; and on the question of cultural function, both in Shakespeare’s time and in our own. We’ll be considering the characters that are outliers, be they black or Jewish, shrewish or deformed, bastard, half-mad, or half-human.  Plays will include Titus Andronicus, Taming of the Shrew, Richard III, Merchant of Venice, Othello, King Lear, and The Tempest.
STUDENTS: Required of English majors and minors and some Theater Arts majors, but all are welcome.
FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion and lecture.
REQUIREMENTS: Close reading of seven plays; completion of all assigned readings (quizzes will be given at each class); one written response each class; participation in classroom discussion, memorization of fifty lines of student’s choice.

ENGL 23200-01, -02 Medieval Literature (HU, LA, 3b, h, WI)
CRN 21542: MWF 11:00, Friends 203
CRN 21542: MWF 2:00, Friends 302
INSTRUCTOR: Michael Twomey, Muller 329, Ext. 4-3564, twomey@ithaca.edu.
ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section.
PREREQUISITE:  One course in the humanities or social sciences, or sophomore standing; WRTG 10600 or ICSM 10800-10899 or ICSM 11800-11899.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines medieval literature both as a reflection of the culture that made the modern world and as the origin of modern lyric poetry, romances, sagas, and tales.  Each unit features one major medieval text: The Saga of the Volsungs, The Saga of Grettir the Strong, The Romance of SilenceThe Death of King Arthur, Dante’s Inferno, and selections from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Additional short “background” readings will be available in a course packet.  The course focuses on learning the cultural backgrounds and the distinctive literary techniques of the Middle Ages.  The pace will be unhurried, with an emphasis on understanding the literature.  Major social themes include medieval antifeminism, gender and sex in the Middle Ages, the “body culture” of the post-bubonic plague years, and the roles of men and women.
COURSE FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion and lecture.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Two 5-page essays, short response pieces and other kinds of homework, final exam.

ENGL 31100-01, -02 Dramatic Literature I (HU, LA, 3a, h, WI)
CRN 20515: TR 8:00-9:15, Friends 301
CRN 20519: TR 9:25-10:40, Friends 301
INSTRUCTOR: Dan Breen, 302 Muller, ext. 4-1014.
ENROLLMENT: 20 students per section.
PREREQUISITE: Any three courses in English, history of the theater, or introduction to the theater.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: “Comedy” and “tragedy” are ancient categories, invoked originally to describe different kinds of dramatic composition.  Though this distinction remains a convenient (and relevant) one for contemporary readers and audiences, it is also the case that these seemingly simple, seemingly antithetical terms convey a range of emotion and experience that is not always easily divisible.  Tragic—or potentially tragic—situations often arise in comedy, and there are moments in most tragedies at which the plays seem as though they might begin to move in more optimistic or affirming directions.  This course will begin with the hypothesis that the terms “comedy” and “tragedy” describe actions taken by dramatic characters in response to crisis, and the specific consequences of those actions.  As such, we will attempt to locate “comedy” and “tragedy” within fundamental elements of human experience, and examine the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual dimensions of each.  We will read a selection of plays from the Classical, Renaissance English, and Restoration traditions including Sophocles’ Ajax, Plautus’ Pseudolus, Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II  and Aphra Behn’s The Feigned Courtesans. 
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, with some context-setting lectures.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Two 5-7-page essays, a short (2-3 pages) response paper, a take-home final exam, and class participation.  Grading will be A-F.  Because of the discussion-oriented format, class participation will be an important part of students’ final grades.

ENGL 42500-01 History and Structure of the English Language (HU, LA)
CRN 22402: TR 4:00-5:15, F 301
INSTRUCTOR: Michael Twomey, Muller 329, Ext. 4-3564, twomey@ithaca.edu.
ENROLLMENT: 10 students (seminar).
PREREQUISITE: Undergrads:  Four English courses, one of which must be at level 3, or permission of instructor; required of English with Teaching Option majors.  Grads: required of students in the M.A.T. program in English.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: The main purpose of this course is to give you a broad and deep knowledge of the linguistic concepts that inform our speech and writing.  Whether we are English teachers, writers, or simply literate citizens, we must know how the English language works.  Without that, we cannot understand what distinguishes correct from incorrect usage, why we spell the way we do, how to make sense of difficult sentences, where to go for information about the English language, and, most of all, why we should enjoy using the English language.  Topics: “The Language Instinct”; phonology (sounds), morphology (word-formation), and lexicon (vocabulary); grammar, syntax, and punctuation; history and development of English; variation in and varieties of English.
COURSE FORMAT AND STYLE: Discussion, in-class exercises and oral reports by students, topical lectures by the instructor.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS: Short response pieces and other kinds of homework, prelims on the major units; research paper.

HIST 10100-01, -02 Foundations of Western Civilization (HU, LA, 1, g, h, TI, TPJ)
CRN 22715, TR 8:00-9:15, Friends 309
CRN 23500, TR 9:25-10:45, Friends 309
INSTRUCTOR: Matthew Klemm, Muller 405, Ext. 4-1306.
ENROLLMENT: 32 per section.
PREREQUISITES: None.
STUDENTS: This is a beginning level survey course. As such it is designed for first year students and sophomores. Not open to seniors except by permission of instructor.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course will provide an overview of "western" (i.e., primarily European) history from Ancient Greece to the Reformation. The focus will be on those aspects of this history that we judge to have shaped modern notions of western mentalities and western civilization. Topics covered include Ancient Greek culture and the development of democracy, the diffusion of Greek culture, the evolution of Roman government, the Christianization of Europe, the reclamation of ancient learning in the  Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Age of Religious Wars.
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Primarily lecture, some discussion.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Three examinations, two short essays, one longer essay, class participation. Based on class participation, examinations, and essays.

HIST 22700-01 Islamic Civilizations: Muhammad to the 19th Century
CRN 23506: TR 1:10-2:25, Williams 323
INSTRUCTOR: Jason Freitag, Muller 423, Ext. 4-5798.
ENROLLMENT: 27
PREREQUISITES: One course in the humanities or social sciences and sophomore standing.
STUDENTS: Open to all students.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course deals with the worldwide development of Islamic societies, beginning in the Arabian Peninsula just before the time of Muhammad. The course then considers the rise and consolidation of Islam in Arabia, and follows the global development and impact of Islamic societies as they become established from Europe to Indian and Southeast Asia. The course examines Islam in its various religious, cultural and political forms, and the ways in which it has provided aspects of a stable identity for Muslims worldwide while adapting itself to the social and cultural needs of the areas to which is spread. The course will also look critically at “historiography,” or the writing of history, as we try to understand how Muslim writers construed the form and meaning of their faith and their place as Muslims within this world. The course ends as the European colonial powers encounter the Middle Eastern and Asian Islamic worlds and a series of transformations begin that result in the contours of Islam in the modern world. Counts toward “the global history” requirement for our majors.
FORMAT AND STYLE: Lectures, discussion of readings.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Readings, response papers, class attendance and participation, midterm and final; grading is based on performance on each of the above requirements.

JWST 22500-01 / RLST 22500-01 Expressions of Jewish Art and Architecture in Muslim Lands
CRN 23576: TR 2:25-3:50, Friends 304, Cynthia Hogan
Survey of a wide-range of art and architecture made by and for Jews from the ancient world to the present-day Middle East, offering an historical introduction to the vibrant cultural worlds of Jewish communities in Muslim-majority lands. Explores the exchanges and influences of Jewish and Muslim traditions on visual art and architecture made to serve religious and ritual purposes, and places these artistic expressions in their historical and cultural contexts. This course is cross-listed with RLST 22500; students cannot receive credit for both JWST 22500 and RLST 22500. Prerequisites: one course in the humanities or fine arts. 

 

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