The Mediterranean

Winter 2015

Histart 253.002 / Judaic 253.002 / Romlang 253.002
Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 12-1 pm

This team-taught course provides an introduction to the history and culture of the Mediterranean from a cross-disciplinary perspective.  We will examine the ways in which the sea has served over time as a medium of contact, exchange, and interaction among multiple societies, nations, religions, ethnicities, and languages.  Through a close study of texts, documents, images and material objects from the medieval to the modern period, we will consider what the interconnected histories of Mediterranean cultures can contribute to our understanding of global relations in the world today.

The course includes both a lecture and seminar component.  Students attend one weekly team-taught lecture and meet twice weekly in smaller specialized seminars offered through the Departments of History of Art (HISTART 253.002), Judaic Studies (JUDAIC 253.002), and Romance Languages and Literatures (ROMLANG 253.002).  Students enrolling in any one of the seminars are automatically enrolled in the jointly taught lecture.  

The course fulfills the LSA “Humanities” requirement.

HISTART 253.002.  The Mediterranean: Art History
This seminar explores the art of the Mediterranean, focusing on Constantinople, Sicily, Egypt and the Holy Land.  We study a range of artefacts such as manuscripts, maps, coins, textiles, and luxury goods,  which took shape as a result of the vibrant cross-cultural encounters that animated the region.  A key theme of the seminar is movement and how it facilitated the exchange of ideas, images, models, materials, and artisans within and beyond the Mediterranean.  We look at objects in the Kelsey Museum and Special Collections and read a variety of primary sources (all in English translation) to study the fluidity of the connections enabled by the Mediterranean as both a geographical expanse and an imaginative construct.

JUDAIC 253.002.  The Mediterranean: Jewish Studies
This seminar examines the modern Jewish Mediterranean, highlighting the interconnectedness of the region across geographical, national, linguistic, ethnic, and religious divides.  Topics covered include commercial and philanthropic networks, Jewish intermediaries, the fall of empires, colonialism and nationalism, and emancipation and migration, including the diaspora to the Americas.  A variety of texts from the rich linguistic cultures of Judaism will be studied in translation. The course fulfills the Judaic Studies major and minor distribution requirements for the “History & Social Science” and the “Jewish Literatures & Cultures” categories, and for the “Modern” period.

ROMLANG 253.002.  The Mediterranean: History and Culture
This seminar focuses on the political, social, and cultural history of the Early Modern Mediterranean.  Through a close reading of literary and archival sources, such as travelogues, ambassadors’ reports, soldiers’ tales, and captivity narratives, the seminar explores salient features of the Mediterranean in the pre-modern period.  These include the rise of empires, commercial networks, experiences of conversion and expulsion, travel and migration, piracy and captivity, and inter-confessional relations.  All readings and discussion will be in English.