FALL SEMESTER 2012/ Dr. George Dameron

MWF 8:30-9:35 (Hi 108A) and 11:00-12:05 (Hi 108B)

                                                Office:  Library 306/Telephone x2318

Office Hours:  Mondays, 1-3; Thursdays, 4-5, and by appointment




Photo:  Massa Marittima (Tuscany, Italy)

George Dameron/copyright 2009



The primary goals of the course are the following:  1) to provide a broad, interdisciplinary overview of the development of the history of Europe, Byzantium, and Islam within a global context from the  fifth through fifteenth centuries; 2) to encourage a critical analysis of  both primary and secondary historical sources, 3) to introduce students to some of the principal issues and debates among historians associated with the  Middle Ages (500-1500), 4) to stimulate student interest in medieval history, 5) to explore the role of the Middle Ages in the formation of the modern world,  6) to encourage a global understanding of historical change by studying the complex relations between Europe, Islam, and Byzantium; 7) to enhance the ability of students to think, speak, and write critically and analytically about the past; 8) to dispel negative myths about the Middle Ages, 9) to learn how to use library and information technology resources for historical research and study, 10) to fulfill a Liberal Studies Requirement in Historical Studies,  11) to follow the impact of environmental change on society in the Middle Ages, and 12) and to require students to write a short research paper using primary sources on a topic associated with medieval culture.



The class will consist of lecture and discussion, several debates based on the interpretation of primary sources, and occasional in-class small group work.   Normally, there will be lectures/presentations twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays) and a discussion or debate once a week (on Fridays).  Questions are welcome at any time.  Discussions and focus papers will be organized around the primary sources and the set of study questions posted at eCollege.  Every Friday there will be either a short quiz (5 minutes) or a one-page focus paper.  Students must bring their hard-copy focus papers to class on Fridays (not sent through email) and turn them in during class time.  Late focus papers or make-up quizzes are acceptable only for medical or compelling family reasons.


Students will take turns proposing questions or comments at the beginning of class on days devoted to discussion. 



There are no prerequisites.  The requirements are the following:  class participation (20% of final grade); a brief quiz every other week on Fridays (10%), with the lowest score being dropped; an ungraded, one-page focus paper due every other Friday when there is not a quiz (10%); one hour exam (objective and essay, 10% of final grade, September 28); a 9 (nine) to 11 (eleven)-page research paper (excluding bibliography and notes) on a topic associated with Yvain by Chrétien de Troyes (20% of final grade), due November 2; and a final examination (objective and essay, 30% of grade):  History 108A (Monday, December 10, 9-11:30) and History 108B (Tuesday, December 11, 9-11:30)


Attendance and Class Etiquette

As a courtesy, students should inform me in advance of any anticipated absence.   Students should arrange all travel arrangements so that they do not conflict with any scheduled classes, quizzes, or exams.   There are no make-ups for the focus papers, quizzes, or exams, except in the case of a documented illness or for verifiable and compelling personal or family reasons.

All electronic devices will be powered off during class, unless students have my permission to use a lap top because of special needs.  I reserve the right to require students to place their devices on the front desk if I find they are using their devices during class.

To promote an environment conducive to learning, students will not leave the classroom during class except in the case of serious illness.  Failure to follow these guidelines will have a negative impact on the participation grade and may raise issues of academic integrity.  I reserve the right to call on any student at any time with a question.

The Paper

The paper is due on at my office on November 2 (a Friday).  Normally, there will be a half a letter grade penalty (5 points) for every day the paper is late.   The paper will follow the required methods of citing primary and secondary sources, and it must also include a formal bibliography.  Students will use at least three primary and three secondary sources for their papers.  History department policy requires students to use footnotes or endnotes in the proper format (no in-text citations).  A set of books and readings will be available on library reserve for students to use for their research.  After the midterm examination, I will distribute more specific instructions and guidelines for the paper as well as a bibliography.  See also the citation guides posted at the Durick Library Web site under “Cite Sources”. 



eCollege is Web-based course management system that we will use for this course.   Students should check the site regularly for any messages or announcements or new postings.


Web sites for the Study of the Middle Ages

There are several Web sites maintained by professional medievalists that are accessible through my Web site (URL listed at top of syllabus) or through the eCollege site.  They include the Internet Medieval Sourcebook, Orb, Labyrinth, Feminae (Medieval Women and Gender Index), The World of Dante, and NetSerf.  I encourage students to explore these sites as we proceed through the syllabus. 


The author of your textbook has also developed a Web site for the textbook (Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages), which I encourage you to visit frequently.




The student is responsible for familiarizing herself or himself with the Academic Integrity Policy of the College.   Violations of academic integrity (plagiarism, multiple submission, unauthorized assistance, interference, interference using information technology) can result in sanctions ranging from failure for the assignment, failure of the course, the obligation to repeat the assignment with a lower grade, or dismissal from the course.  The Judicial Review Board may impose other sanctions as well.  Plagiarism is a serious academic offense.   According to the Policy on Academic Integrity included in the Student Handbook and Code of Conduct and posted online, plagiarism is the presentation of “another person’s ideas as your own, by directly quoting or indirectly paraphrasing, without properly citing the original source. This includes inadvertent failure to properly acknowledge sources.”   



Students with learning differences (documented by the Office of the Coordinator of Academic Compliance, Ms. Antonia Messuri) are eligible for appropriate accommodations. Please see me early in the semester if you require any accommodation.




Required Books for Purchase:




Required Reading On Reserve in Durick Library and posted at eCollege:




Required Readings Online:

unless otherwise noted, all online texts are located in the Internet Medieval Sourcebook:




Week One:   The Transformation of the Late Ancient World (c. 200-c. 600)


Week Two:  The Making of Three Civilizations (Western Europe, Islam, Byzantium, c. 600-c.750)

·         September 7 (discussion and first debate):  sourcebook (2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 2.9, 2.11, 2.15); Ibn Abd-el Haken, “Islamic Conquest of Spain” 

o   Focus paper

o   First debate:  “Resolved:  all icons in the Empire are to be smashed and destroyed.”


Week Three:  Diverging Worlds (Byzantium, Islam, and Western Europe, c. 750-c. 900) 

Week Four:  Crisis and the Reordering of Political Communities (c. 900-c. 1050)


Week Five:  The Culture of Northern Europe (c. 900-c.1050)


Week Six:  Expansion, Growth, and Church Reform (c. 1050-c. 1150)

o   Text:  chapter 5

o   Sourcebook (plates 5.1-plates 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4)

o   Sourcebook (5.4, 5.5)

o   Focus paper


Week Seven:  Invasions of the Eleventh Century


Week Eight:  New Directions in Learning and Religious Life (c. 1050-c. 1150)

o   Abelard, “The Story of My Misfortunes”; sourcebook:  5.16

Week Nine:  Centralizing States and Courtly Culture (c. 1150-.c. 1250)


Week Ten and Eleven:  The Culture of the Courts (c. 1150-c. 1250)


Week Eleven:  The Church and Religious Dissent (c. 1150-c. 1250)


Week Twelve:  Politics (c. 1250-c. 1350)

·         November 16 (discussion):  sourcebook (7.1, 7.5, 7.6, 7.10, 7.13, 7.16, 7.17)

o   Focus paper


Week Thirteen:  Philosophy and Crusades, c. 1250-c. 1350

o   Madden, chapters 7 and 8

o   Sourcebook 7.19


**Thanksgiving Break (November 20-November 25**


Week Fourteen:  Crisis and Renewal (c. 1350-c. 1500), continued

·         November 26 (discussion):  “Epic Literature of the Fourteenth Century”

o   Sourcebook:  7.21, 7.22; Canto 1 of Dante’s Divine Comedy (at World of Dante)


Week Fifteen:  The Renaissance of the Fifteenth Century


Final Examinations:

·         History 108A (Monday, December 10, 9-11:30)

·         History 108B (Tuesday, December 11, 9-11:30)