History 111A and 111B

SPRING SEMESTER 2010/ Dr. George Dameron

                                                Office:  Library 306/Telephone x2318

Office Hours:  Mondays, 2-4; Wednesdays, 1-2, and by appointment





San Galgano (Cistercian), Tuscany (Italy)

Photo:  George Dameron/copyright 2009



The primary goals of the course are the following:  1) to provide a broad, interdisciplinary overview of European history within a global context from the  eleventh century through fifteenth century; 2) to familiarize students with a variety of primary historical sources and documents for this period, 3) to introduce students to some of the principal issues and debates among historians associated with the Later Middle Ages (1000-1500), 4) to stimulate student interest in medieval history, 5) to explore the role of the Middle Ages in the formation of the modern world as well as to recognize the distance of its culture from our own,  6) to encourage a global understanding of historical change by studying the complex relations between Western Europe, Islam, and Byzantium; 7) to enhance the ability of students to think, speak, and write critically about History; 8) to dispel negative myths about the Middle Ages, 9) to learn to use library and information technology resources for historical research and study, 10) to fulfill a Liberal Studies Requirement in Historical Studies, 11) to orient students to the role of the environment in the development of medieval history, and 12) to require a research paper using primary sources on a topic associated with the romance, Erec et Enide



The class will consist of occasional lectures, debates, frequent class discussions on assigned readings, and occasional in-class small group work.  Questions are welcome at any time.  Discussions and focus papers will primarily be organized around the primary sources and a set of study questions that I shall post at eCollege.  Every Friday there will be either a short quiz (5 minutes) or a focus paper.  Students must bring their focus papers to class on Fridays and turn them in during class time (late focus papers or make-up quizzes are acceptable only for medical or compelling family reasons).


Readings for the course will be either hardcopy or online (via Web sites or via our library’s database collection of online journals).


Students should bring their textbook to class so that we can on occasion refer to the photos and illustrations.


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 (10% of final grade); a quiz every other week on Fridays (10%), with the lowest score being dropped; an ungraded, one-page focus paper due every Friday when there is not a quiz (10%); one mid-semester hour exam (objective and essay, 20% of final grade); a 7 (seven) to 9 (nine) page research paper (excluding bibliography and notes) on a topic associated with Erec and Enide by Chrétien de Troyes (20% of final grade), due at my office March 11 (a Thursday); and a final examination in May (objective and essay, 30% of grade), date tba.


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.

To promote an environment conducive to learning, students will not leave the classroom during class except in the case of serious illness.  Students will also refrain from checking email, text messages, updating Facebook, handling cell phone calls during class (cell phones must be turned off before class begins), and using laptops for reasons other than for class use (see below).    

Because I will be presenting a paper at and attending the 2010 Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America in Venice, Italy between April 7 and April 11,  I will not hold classes on Wednesday (April 7) or Friday (April 9).  Your will read Dante’s Inferno (online) while I am away, and a focus paper is due at my office April 9.


I will make up both missed classes on April 6 (6-6:50 pm) and April 13 (6-6:50 pm) (location tba).  Because these make-up classes meet outside the regular schedule, I cannot make them obligatory.  However, all students are responsible for all material covered.


The Paper

The paper due on at my office on March 11 (a Thursday).  Students are free to turn in the paper earlier (during class on March 10).  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.  For information on citing sources and creating bibliographies, see my Guide for Papers (posted at the eCollege site and at my Web site).    See also the citation guides posted at the Durick Library Web site under “Find Reference Sources” (Citation Guides)



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 use of laptop computers is welcome.  However, use of laptops during class will be limited to course-related work (note-taking, viewing the syllabus, exploring the eCollege site, and so on).  Use of computers during class for purposes other than those related to the course can result in the loss of the privilege to use laptops in class. 


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:


OR (if volume 2 not available)



Required Reading On Reserve in Durick Library and online:


Caroline Walker Bynum, "Fast, Feast, and Flesh:  The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women," Representations 11 (1985):  1-16.


Required Reading Online:


Dante Alighieri, Inferno; Deborah Parker, general editor, The World of Dante,






January 11

Introduction to Course:   “The Middle Ages; The World in 1000”   


Expansion and Growth, ca. 1000-ca. 1150


January 13

Lecture:  “Economy”

Text:  chapter 5, 177-187


January 15

Discussion:  Economy


Sources:  Plates 5.1-5.4, 5.1-5.3


January 18

Lecture:  “Reform”

Text:  chapter 5, 187-193


January 20

Debate:  “Resolved:  That the pope has created disorder in the Church and must resign”

Sources:  5.4, 5.5


January 22

Lecture:  “Crusades”

Text:  chapter 5, 193-202

Sources:  5.6, 5.7, 5.9

*Focus Paper*


January 25

Discussion:  the Crusades and Reconquista

Sources:  5.8, 5.10


January 27

Discussion and debate:  the Norman Conquest

Sources:  5.11-5.13, plate 5.5


January 29      

Lecture:  “Thought”

Text:  chapter 5, 203-218



February 1

Discussion:  The Twelfth-Century Renaissance

Sources:  5.14-5.15, 5.17; plates 5.6-5.7


February 3

Discussion:  Religious Life

Sources:  5.16, 5.18-5.19


Governance, Crusading, Religion, and Culture, ca. 1150-ca. 1250


February 5

Lecture:  “Institutions and Crusades”

Text:  chapter 6, 219-237

*Focus paper*


February 8

Discussion:  The English, German, and Spanish Monarchies

Sources:  6.5-6.8, 6.15-6.17


February 10

Discussion:  More Crusades

Sources:  6.1, 6.2


February 12

**Hour Examination**


**February 15, 16—February Break**


February 17

Lecture:  “Courtly Culture and Life in the Towns”

Text:  chapter 6, 237-244


February 19

Discussion:  Commerce and Guilds

Sources:  6.9-6.11



February 22

Discussion:  The Papacy

Sources:  6.12-6.14


February 24

Discussion:  Vernacular literature

Sources:  6.18-6.22


February 26

Discussion:  Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide (first half)

*Focus paper


March 1, 3

Discussion (continued):  Chrétien de Troyes, Erec et Enide (second half)


March 5

Lecture and Presentation:  “Architecture”


Text:  chapter 6, 244-251

Sources:  6.24; illustrations in textbook


March 8

Lecture:  “Religion”

Text:  chapter 6, 252-261

Source: 6.23


March 10

Discussion:  New Currents in Religious Life

Sources:  6.25, 6.26, 6.27, The Testament of Saint Francis (online)


March 11 (Thursday):  **Research Paper Due**


March 12

Discussion:  Caroline Walker Bynum, "Fast, Feast, and Flesh:  The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women," Representations 11 (1985):  1-16.  Online.

*Focus Paper


**March 12 (last class)-March 21—March Recess**


March 22

Discussion:  Persecution and Violence

Sources:  6.28, 6.29


Expansion and Disharmony, ca. 1250-ca. 1350


March 24

Lecture:  “Economy”

Text:  chapter 7, 263-274


March 26

Discussion:  The Mongols and the European Economy

Sources:  7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.5, 7.6, 7.7, 7.8



March 29

Lecture:  “Rulers”

Text:  275-279


March 31

Discussion:  Joinville, Life of Saint Louis

Source:  7.13


**April 2-April 5—Easter Break**


April 6 (a Tuesday)

Make-up Class, 6 pm – 6:50 pm (classroom tba)

Debate:  The Pope (Boniface VIII) versus the King (Philip IV of France)

Sources:  7.15-7.17


April 7

No class

Read:  Dante’s Inferno (first half:  cantos 1-16)


April 9

No class

Read:  Dante’s Inferno (second half:  cantos 17-33)

*Focus paper on two cantos due at my office, Library 306


April 12

Lecture:  “Religion”

Text:  chapter 7, 280-286

Sources:  7.20, 7.24


April 13 (a Tuesday)

Make-up Class, 6-6:50 pm (classroom tba)

Discussion:  Scholasticism (Thomas Aquinas)

Sources:  7.19


April 14

Lecture:  “Culture”

Text:  287-296

Sources:  7.22 (“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”), 7.23


April 16

Discussion:  Dante’s Inferno



Crisis and Renewal, ca. 1300-ca. 1500


April 19

Lecture:  “Crisis”

Text:  chapter 7, 297-303; chapter 8, 305-308


April 21

Discussion:  The Plague

Sources:  8.1-8.5


April 23: “War and Revolt

Text:  chapter 8, 308-324

Sources:  8.6, 8.7, 8.9, 8.11-8.13

*Focus paper


April 26:  “The Church in Crisis”

Text:  chapter 8, 324-6

Sources:  8.14-8.18


April 28:  “New Currents in Fifteenth Century Culture and Politics”

Text:  chapter 8, 327-349

Sources:  8.19, 8.21, 8.24


Conclusion:  New Directions


April 30

Discussion:  New Directions for Europe

Sources:  8.22, 8.23, Plate 8.1



Final Examinations:  May 3-7 (History 111A and 111B, tba)