The Making of Europe: Medieval Culture, c.500–1500
Between the years 500 and 1500, Western Europeans experienced an era of enormous creativity and cultural change. Kingdoms rose and fell, while poets agonized over courtly love, thousands of knights fought and died on epic crusades, and scholars debated the nature of God at the world’s first universities. This course will introduce students to a foundational epoch in the history of the West, exploring the core medieval ideas and institutions that helped to make Europe into what it is today. At the same time, we will also investigate the radically different answers medieval people had to the fundamental questions of human existence. Studying a wide range of texts and images, from autobiographies and confessional poems to gothic sculptures and fantastical maps, we will unearth the intellectual universe of an ancient culture, probing its continuities and ruptures with the world we inhabit now.