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   Course Title    Secular and Sacred in Western-Christian and Eastern Christian Medieval Culture
Lecturer    Nadejda Selounskaia
Institution    Russian Academy of Sciences
Country    Russia


The objectives and the aim of the course

The course deals with the main outlines of the historical development of medieval society in the West and in the East of the medieval Christian world, with the emphasis on the interaction of the secular and sacred aspects of the culture of the Byzantine Empire and Latin Europe.  The aim is to analyze the ethic and aesthetic values and principles of the medieval culture in a social perspective and in a historical comparison (e.g. between Byzantine and Latin world, Early Christian and Late Medieval culture). The course will focus on the indivisible unity and the interaction of the secular and the sacral aspects of the Medieval culture.

 

The role of the course in the overall degree curriculum

 The course is devoted to the study of the secular and sacred aspects of the Western-Christian and the Eastern Christian Culture and replaces the general course «History of the Middle Ages and Renaissance», but it will treat the main themes of History of the Medieval Civilizations in a specific perspective. The course is also useful for students specialised in the humanities (art history, philosophy, culturology, sociology) who are not supposed to get the basic course «History of the Middle Ages», but need basic knowledge of Medieval culture.

 

The method and approach

The announced course has to demonstrate the interaction of micro- and macro-historical contexts. The lecturer plans to analyze a number of the historical trends and approaches (such as Macro history, Microhistory and case studies, Cultural anthropology, History of Ideas, Political history, Institutional history) without forcing the students to give preferences to any of them. The important issue is that the students should play an active role, taking part in discussions and formulating the precise topic of the presentations and discussions themselves. Only general topic areas of the presentations and discussions, together with the key-questions and the list of literature will be submitted by the teacher.

 

The main topic areas of the studies within the focus of the course are Law, Rulership, Religion and Hierarchy or as it could be explained in a more detailed way: 1)the elite (nobility) and the church, the donations to the church as the tool for organising in the conspiracy the unions with political and economical aims, 2) the interaction of secular and sacred aspects in the development of medieval corporativism - civitas, universitas, consorteria, 3) the links of the vassalagium and the role of the juramentum in the different countries 4) the role of the cult of the saints  and the rulership on the local level (e.g., the submission of the local communities to the main city-commune) and in the  state (e.g., the establishment of the new dynasty, etc.)

 

Teaching techniques and strategies, student’s presentations and paper writing techniques

The course will be presented in the form of lectures followed by discussions or 10-15 minute student paper presentations. The presentations could be individual as well as in the form of a dialogue between two participants of the course, or in the form of a discussion with three or more leaders. We will exercise interactive forms of teaching not only in oral form, but also using audio-visual tools: e.g., work with illustrations slides, as well as the use of computer / the electronic form resources created by my group working on the projects «Latin liturgy» and «Numismatic iconography» and the Internet resources could be used on the choice of the students/.

 

The requirements

The knowledge of two Modern languages: English and Italian or French

The knowledge of Ancient languages: Latin or Greek (for those who wish to get credits)

Each student should participate in the discussions twice as the leader of the group and to make the dialogue presentation or the individual presentation. The written text of the presentation should be submit by the last lecture in order to get a grade (credits), the oral presentations are required for «test» or «audit».

 

The Structure of the course The main problems and themes of the course:

The course consists of the three networks, organized as the circle of the weekly seminars (1 h.20 m.+ 1h.20 m. each)

network #1. Introduction to the main features of medieval culture. The terms, the categories and the basic concepts

a) The lectures:1st week. Introduction. The various approaches to the definition of the concept «culture». The problems of historiography and history of cultural phenomena of the Middle ages. Problems of 20c. historiography: Culturology and Historical Anthropology, «History of ideas» trend, «Intellectual history», «Microhistory». The perception of the order and the innovation in the culture of the Middle ages. The connection between Christian ethics and aesthetics.

b)  the topic areas for the individual presentations and the dialogues: micro- vs macro- approaches. Medieval historiography: Microstoria.

c) The themes to be studied in the form of collective discussions or by using visual resources: 2nd week. Internet resources for study and research in Medieval themes. The role of Christian symbolism, «mystical realism» of medieval art and mentality: symbol, image, archetype.

3rd week. The categories of the secular and the sacred in art and culture of the Middle ages, the interaction of the secular and the sacred. The dualism of the «popular» and «elite» culture. Categories «of «space» and  «time»; sacred space and time in the culture of the medieval Christian world.

 

d) The topic areas for the course papers( could be studied by using the visual resources or the written sources and should be presented in oral form in class as well)

The study of Medieval and Renaissance Historiography:1) the works of G. Duby, 2) the works of G. Levi. 3) the works of N.Zemon-Davis. 4) the works of A. Grafton.

5)The trend of Medievalism.

Symbol, image, archetype in medieval art and mentality: case study of the early Byzantine culture. Constantinopolis: the city and the imperial idea. Aachen: the city and the imperial idea.

 

Network#2. Christian aesthetics. The social dimension of Medieval aesthetics.

a)The lectures:

4th week. The mimetic (mimesis-imitation), sign (conditional), and

symbolical images in medieval culture. «Mystical realism» of the medieval culture. Christian art and the usage of favourite antique allegories and themes. Antique traditions in the political discourse, in the «eloquentia», in the fine arts Neo-platonic perception of the image and the medieval discourse. Revival», «renewal», and «continuity» of antique tradition in the West and East.

5th week. The phenomenon of icon. Iconoclastic controversy with its historical role political and cultural significance; The doctrine of Iconophiles: the statement of mystical identity of the image with the Divine prototype. The new perception of the image (of the icon) as the church doctrine.

b) the topic areas for individual presentations and the dialogues:

4th week. The Idea of Empire - «Renovatio Imperii Romani» and its expressions, in the fine arts, in the court culture, in the planing of the new capitals.

c) The themes to be studied in the form of collective discussions or by using the visual resources:

5th week The sacralisation of the Ruler in the Christian Medieval world. Christ as the Emperor. The cult of the Christian Emperor. The Byzantine rulers and their cultural policy in 10-14c.

The transformation of the image of the Emperor from pagan Rome to Medieval Christian aesthetic (focus on the Byzantine cult of the Emperor and the visual sources and the artifacts)

d) the topic areas for the course papers( could be studied by using the visual resources or the written sources and should be presented in oral form in the class as well):

«Macedonian Renaissance» in Byzantium: The Macedonian dynasty and the court culture.«Paleologian Renaissance»: The Paleologian and the court. The political culture of the time. Classicism in the fine arts of 14c.:The cultural tradition in the West: Carolingian and Ottonian «revival» or «Renaissance». The concept of Italian Renaissance in  comparison with cultural revival of Carolingian and Ottonian time.

 

 

 Network#3. Christian ethics and the social order. Legal history and culture

Lectures.

6th week. The division of society (ordines). The ideology of ordines. The minority and cross-cultural relations. An ideal of poverty and social practice of fratres minores and  fratres praedicatores. The evaluation of the social and the political role of the minorities. 7th week. The political theories in the Middle ages. The forms of government in the medieval perception. The Medieval papacy and the Imperium. Christian ethics and the Humanism of Renaissance. The attempt of differentiation of moral rules from the political ones in the Renaissance.

8th  week. The juridical theories of the Middle ages. The law and the custom. The problem of the reception of the Roman law. Ars notarii.  Success of the development of the local legal structures. The law and the religious life.. The secular legislation and religious issues. The institutional history: secular and sacred aspects. The medieval corporation. Communio and commune. Universitas.

b) topic areas for the individual presentations and the dialogues: 9th week. Christian ethics and the Humanism of Renaissance. The attempt at differentiation of moral rules from the political ones in the Renaissance.

c)Themes to be studied in the form of the collective discussions or by using the visual resources: 9th week. The division of  society (ordines). The ideology of ordines. An ideal of poverty and social practice of fratres minores and  fratres praedicatores. Property, poverty and slavery in categories of Christian ethics. The image of the ruler in Italian Renaissance political theory.

d) Topic areas for course papers Christian ethics and attitude to war in the  Middle ages. Militia Christi. The  Crusades and the crusaders. The consequences of the Crusades. Saint Louis: the king, the hero, the holy man. The question of usura and the Jewish community in Europe. An ideal of poverty and social practice of fratres minores and  fratres praedicatores. The canon law. The lands of St.Peter and medieval papacy. The problem of the continuity of Roman political and juridical tradition in the Medieval world: self government, the different types of the city commune in the Medieval world.

 

Questions for the discussions

Is there any difference between symbol and sign? If, yes, what?

What is an icon?

Did the iconoclasts deny any value of the religious images?

How could you explain the term «the revival» of Antiquity? What is the Renaissance of the 12 c.?

Describe the medieval «universitas». What could this term mean?

What is «militia Christi»?

How could we describe the Crusades?

What kind of consequences of the crusades can be seen (positive or negative)?

Describe the social role of the parish church.

Who were ‘mendicantes’?

Describe any of the famous medieval royal dynasties.

Explain the vision of the concepts: «two bodies of the king»

«two bodies of the pope».

 

The reader: selected bibliography. Literature.

 

E.Kantorowicz.The Kings two bodies. var. ed.(preface by W.C. Jordan to the ed. 1997 in reader)

N.Zemon Davis. Fiction in the archives. var. Ed (author’s  preface 1987 in reader).

G.Duby. Art and Society. 2000.

Justinian. The Digest of roman Law.(General introduction.1979 in reader).

F.L. Ganshof. Feodalism.1996. (introduction in reader).

New Perspectives on Historical writing. Ed. P.Burke/1997. (P.Burke. Overture in reader).



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