H206 Medieval Civilizations

(Summer Session I, 2010)

Course Meetings
M-F, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm
May 11 – Jun 17, 2010
BH 148

Indiana University, section 14094

Kalani Craig

Office Hours
W 1:15-2:15 pm (Ballantine Hall, 727)

Email: craigkl@indiana.edu
Website: www.kalanicraig.com

Information & Policies

  1. Course Description
  2. Readings and Texts
  3. Assigned Readings and Absences
  4. Assignment Overview
  5. Grading
  6. Student’s Conduct
  7. Teacher’s Conduct
  8. History Learning Project Study

Course Description

What do we really know about the medieval world? History Channel series on barbarians, vague memories of knights in high school history classes, and cliched King Arthur movies have all left impressions upon most of us about what Europe was like between 500 and 1500 C.E.. But how useful are the cliches? For example:

  • Were the “Dark Ages” really all that dark?
  • How barbaric were the barbarians?
  • Did knights beat up serfs and rescue maidens?
  • Did Rome fall?
  • Was William really a conqueror?
  • What started the Crusades?
  • Why do we call it “The Black Death?

This survey course tackles some of these cliches and stereotypes by exploring the history of the medieval Mediterranean world through the eyes of people who lived through the Middle Ages. With a particular focus on the blending of Roman tradition with Germanic, Celtic and Semitic culture, we will examine the rise of the world’s largest monotheistic religions (Christianity and Islam) and the political, social and economic shifts that characterized urban and rural Mediterranean and European life in the thousand years between 500 and 1500 C.E.

In addition to surveying major events and trends in medieval history, students will be introduced to a systematic process for creating historical arguments using primary sources (documents created by people who lived during the time period under examination).

Readings and Texts

The reading for this course comes in two forms: a textbook, which students can purchase from the bookstore or Amazon.com, and excerpts from primary sources made available by the instructor. The syllabus indicates whether a primary source reading is posted in the OnCourse Resources folder. Students are expected to bring assigned readings and the textbook to each class meeting.

Textbook: Cruz, Jo Ann Hoeppner Moran, and Richard Gerberding. Medieval Worlds: An Introduction to European History, 300-1492. 1st ed. Wadsworth Publishing, 2003.

Assigned Readings and Absences

You are expected to complete assigned readings by the date on which the readings appear in the syllabus. You should attend lecture and participate in discussion regularly. Attendance will be assessed based on short evidence-matrix in-class responses.

You may miss three classes without penalty. I will deduct 1 participation point for each additional absence (see grading below). Note that this policy does not distinguish “excused” from “unexcused” absences–such a distinction puts me in a role I don’t want to play. SPECIAL H1N1 CAVEAT: H1N1 (“swine”) flu guidelines suggest remaining out of school for 24 full hours beyond the last fever.

Assignment Description

Constructing and presenting a valid historical argument–or an argument in almost any setting, academic or otherwise–consists of several steps. We’ll use a history-oriented way of thinking about those steps to help organize the readings from this class:

  1. 5Ps: Describing a primary source by applying the 5Ps (see attachment)

  2. Evidence Matrix (EM): Extracting and categorizing individual pieces of historical evidence from a primary source

  3. Evidence Questions (EQ): Learning to ask the right detailed historical questions–and to answer those questions–by tying individual pieces of evidence to secondary sources and contextual information

  4. Broad Historical Question (BHQ): Asking a more broadly-based historical question–and finding preliminary answers to that question–by combining the smaller questions drawn from individual pieces of historical evidence

  5. Historical Synthesis (HS): Learning how to effectively synthesize steps 1-4 in order to present and organize the explanation of a historical question using cited evidence

  6. Revision Workshop (WK): Applying peer and instructor review to refine the evidence in the face of questions and counterarguments.

Assignments in this course divide the art of argumentation into these five individual steps, each of which contributes to the completion of a successful final paper. Assignments will introduce students to each new step one by one and demonstrate the piece-by-piece process historians use to analyze small excerpts from historical texts in service of a larger big-picture argument.

Each of the five required assignments will consist of the steps you have encountered before, plus one additional new step. You will receive letter grades only on the steps of each assignment that you’ve encountered at least once before. I will provide a simple satisfactory-effort/unsatisfactory-effort grade for components in an individual assignment based on the newly introduced step. This assignment system allows me to acknowledge the level of effort you invest in attempting new skills without requiring instant mastery of those new skills.


Grades are based on discussion participation, workshop responses and assignment submissions. There will be no midterms or finals.

Assignment points: Each newly introduced step will be graded based on effort only and awarded 1 point. Each previously introduced step will be graded and worth 5 points.

You will be allowed to revise your assignment in class on its due date. I will grade the assignment as though the revisions are part of the original submission. I will also assign workshop points based on how effectively student applies in-class peer/instructor feedback to assignment. In order to qualify for workshop points, you must submit your assignment on time to the OnCourse Assignment page and bring a printed copy of your assignment with you. You’ll use the printed copy during the workshop portion of class and hand it in at the end of class.

Demonstrable improvement throughout the semester will be rewarded. Late penalties: Assignments handed in after the first 15 minutes of class will be considered late and will be penalized (10% of assignment point value if handed in during class, 15% if handed in after class plus 5% per day assignment is late)

Participation points: Students who attend regularly but do not contribute to class discussions will not earn full participation points. Demonstrable improvement throughout the semester will be rewarded. Class disruptions, such as audible talking or cellphones ringing, will lead to deductions from the participation grade.

You may miss three classes without penalty. I will deduct 1 participation point for each additional absence.

Grade Value
Participation & Attendance 13 Points
Unit 1 Assignment 2 Points
Unit 2 Assignment 7 Points
Unit 3 Assignment 12 Points
Unit 4 Assignment 17 Points
Unit 5 Assignment 22 Points
Unit 6 Assignment 27 Points
Total 100

Student’s Conduct

Personal conduct

I expect you to treat course participants and instructional staff with respect. Respect is not the same as agreement: it means using respectful language when stating your ideas, asking questions or disagreeing with others. In class it means avoiding disruptive behavior (talking to other students outside of discussion, using laptops or cellphones for unrelated work). Please try to remember to turn off cellphones before class.

Academic conduct

“Plagiarism–A student must not adopt or reproduce ideas, words, or statements of another person without appropriate acknowledgment. A student must give credit to the originality of others and acknowledge an indebtedness whenever he or she does any of the following:

  1. Quotes another person’s actual words, either oral or written;

  2. Paraphrases another person’s words, either oral or written;

  3. Uses another person’s idea, opinion, or theory; or

  4. Borrows facts, statistics, or other illustrative material, unless the information is common knowledge.”

(Quoted from Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct, Part III, Student Misconduct, Academic Misconduct)

This is the grossest form of academic dishonesty. Plagiarism will result in an automatic failing grade in the course. The case will also be forwarded to the appropriate administrators for disciplinary action.

Teacher’s Conduct

This syllabus has thus far emphasized what you are supposed to do, but I have responsibilities too. I will treat you with respect, encourage a comfortable classroom environment, and return your assignments with constructive comments in a timely fashion. I will be in class as scheduled, on time, and in my office during office hours, barring unforeseen circumstances (notice will be posted in case of unavoidable absence). I will answer email promptly (within 24-36 hours, again barring unforeseen circumstances) and am happy to schedule additional office hours to discuss your work, any difficulties you may be having or to answer any questions you may be worried about asking in class. I’m happy to talk more about the class but you need to take the first steps and ask.

If you have a learning disability, a time conflict, or another issue that may impact your involvement in the course, please come see me as soon as possible. You are encouraged to make an appointment with me to discuss papers and/or issues raised in class.

History Learning Project Study

This course is part of the History Learning Project study. The purpose of the History Learning Project research is to learn more about how students learn to think about history and how to become better educators of History students. The goal of this research is ultimately to improve teaching and the approach the History Department takes in educating its students.

You are required to fill in a Human Subjects consent form in which you agree or decline to participate in these studies. Time will be set aside in class to administer the forms. If you are not present, you will be contacted later by the studies (not by the instructors of the class) to submit the form. No additional work will be required of students participating in the studies and students will not be penalized for non-participation in the studies. The instructors of this class will not know which students have consented to participate in the study as a whole until after final grades have been submitted.

Course Calendar

Unit 0: Introduction

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
0.01 Tue May 11 Introduction and Background

What is medieval? For that matter, what is history?
0.02 Wed May 12 From the Roman Empire to the medieval world

A brief survey of the late Roman world and a look at our first assignment
The Syllabus; Medieval Worlds, 18-67; Eusebius, Conversion of Constantine (OnCourse Resources); Athanasius, Life of Antony, chapters 69-74, 93-4 (OnCourse Resources)  

Unit 1: 250-500 C.E. The “Fall” of Rome?

Did Rome fall? If it fell, what did it leave behind for the inhabitants of the Mediterranean?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
1.01 Thu May 13 Kings, Kingdoms & Religion

Constantine and the Rise of Christianity
Medieval Worlds, 68-76; Priscus, At the Court of Attila (OnCourse Resources); Jordanes, Origins and Deeds of the Goths I, XXXIV-XLII (OnCourse Resources)  
1.02 Fri May 14 Economy & Culture

The Fall of Rome? Roman center meets barbarian periphery; using the 5Ps to see cultural change and continuity
  Unit 1 Assignment
2 Points
Due before class starts on May 14
submit assignment

Unit 2: 500-750 C.E. Long-haired Kings?

How barbaric were the “barbarians”? What social, cultural and political customs did they bring with them?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
2.01 Mon May 17 Kings & Kingdoms

Barbarian kings on Roman thrones
Medieval Worlds, 77-90; Gregory of Tours, excerpts from Ten Books of History (OnCourse Resources)  
2.02 Tue May 18 Economy & Trade

Roman law and barbarian economies
Medieval Worlds, 91-116; Excerpts from The Visigothic Codes (OnCourse Resources)  
2.03 Wed May 19 Religion & Education

Piety, popes and a new prophet
Medieval Worlds, 119-138, 165-176.  
2.04 Thu May 20 Society & Culture; Workshop

Assessing evidence using the 5Ps
Intro to Unit 3
  Unit 2 Assignment
7 Points
Due before class starts on May 20
submit assignment

Unit 3: 750-950 C.E. Carolingian Europe?

Who was Charlemagne? How important was his Frankish kingdom in Europe and the Mediterranean?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
3.01 Fri May 21 Kings & Kingdoms

Unity on Three Fronts?
Medieval Worlds, 139-149, 155-164, 177-184; Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, (OnCourse Resources). Suggested: chapters 1-3, 16-30.  
3.02 Mon May 24 Economy & Trade

Elephants in France?
Medieval Worlds, 185-193, 204-210; Medieval Iberia: readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sources, “On the Campaigns and Diplomacy of ‘Abd al-Rahman III” and other readings on the conquest of al-Andalus (OnCourse Resources). Suggested: Ibn abd Rabbihi, The Unique Necklace  
3.03 Tue May 25 Religion & Education

Icons, iconoclasm and coronations
Medieval Worlds, 119-138; Agnellus of Ravenna, Book of the Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna, Prefatory verses, “Life of Peter” (chapters 24-29), “Life of John” (chapters 34-37), “Life of Peter the Elder” (chapters 93-95) (OnCourse Resources). Suggested: “Life of Peter” (chapters 24-29)  
3.04 Wed May 26 Society & Culture

A Carolingian Renaissance?
Medieval Worlds, 165-176. Carolingian chronicles: Royal Frankish annals and Nithard’s Histories, entries for February of 842 (OnCourse Resources).  
3.05 Thu May 27 Workshop

Asking small-scale historical questions
Intro to Unit 4
  Unit 3 Assignment
12 Points
Due before class starts on May 27
submit assignment

Unit 4: 950-1100 C.E. The “feudal” age?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
4.01 Fri May 28 Kings & Kingdoms

Viking colonization and Taifa division
Medieval Worlds, 193-204, 236-256, 324-331; Medieval Iberia: readings from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish sources, “Ring of the Dove” and “Three Views of Samuel and Joseph ibn Naghrela” (OnCourse Resources)  
Mon, May 31 Memorial Day Holiday (no class)
4.02 Tue Jun 01 Economy & Trade

The economics of “feudalism”
Medieval Worlds, 212-235; Fulbert of Chartres, On Fidelity”

4.03 Wed Jun 02 Religion & Education

The “how” and “why” of early church reform
Medieval Worlds, 257-289; Medieval hagiography: an anthology, Peter Damian’s “Life of Romuald” (OnCourse Resources).  
4.04 Thu Jun 03 Society & Culture

Mysticism and math
Medieval Worlds, 165-176; The Letters of Gerbert (OnCourse Resources)  
4.05 Fri Jun 04 Workshop

Using the 5Ps, individual evidence and smaller historical questions to construct a larger historical question
Intro to Unit 5
  Unit 4 Assignment
17 Points
Due before class starts on Jun 04
submit assignment

Unit 5: 1100-1250 C.E. The first renaissance?

Was there a renaissance before The Renaissance?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
5.01 Mon Jun 07 Kings & Kingdoms

Empires and city-states
Medieval Worlds, 319-349; Excerpts from Suger’s Life of Louis the Fat (OnCourse Resources)  
5.02 Tue Jun 08 Economy & Trade

Cities, merchants and manorialism
Medieval Worlds, 382-406; Lambert of Ardres, excerpts from “History of the Counts of Guines and Lords of Ardres” (OnCourse Resources)  
5.03 Wed Jun 09 Religion & Education

Investiture and controversy
Medieval Worlds, 350-382; Henry’s letter to Gregory VII; Canons 5, 14-16, 62-66 of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215  
5.04 Thu Jun 10 Society & Culture

The rebirth of the individual?
Medieval Worlds, 291-317; Peter Abelard, The History of My Calamities (1-21, 40-43); Heloise’s response to Abelard (47-48, 50-55) (OnCourse Resources)  

Unit 6: 1250-1450 C.E. Death, rebirth or both?

Did the Black Death transform the Mediterranean? Were there other factors at work in the shift from medieval to Renaissance?

Class Session Topic Readings Due Before Class Starts Assignment?
6.01 Fri Jun 11 Workshop / Kings & Kingdoms

Bringing it all together: organizing evidence from primary and secondary sources to support a broad historical question

Intro to Unit 6: The beginnings of “nation”?

Medieval Worlds, 407-430, 486-498. Unit 5 Assignment due in class. Unit 5 Assignment
22 Points
Due before class starts on Jun 11
submit assignment
6.02 Mon Jun 14 Economy & Trade

Plague, famine and revolt
Medieval Worlds, 469-481; excerpt #98 from The Black Death (OnCourse Resources); The Letters of the Rozmberk Sisters, letters 1-2, 7-9, 15, 28, 70 (OnCourse Resources).  
6.03 Tue Jun 15 Religion & Education

Apocalypse and astronomy
Medieval Worlds, 431-444, 500-518; excerpt #55 & 56 from from The Black Death (OnCourse Resources).  
6.04 Wed Jun 16 Society & Culture

The medieval offspring of a Renaissance man.
Part of class will be dedicated to workshopping the final paper.
Medieval Worlds, 481-485, 518-532; Christine de Pizan’s The City of Ladies, I.1, I.9, I.17, I.19, III.1 (OnCourse Resources); Canto IV from Dante’s The Inferno (OnCourse Resources).  
6.05 Thu Jun 17 Workshop and wrap-up

The art of synthesis: moving from outline to paper. 2 workshop points will be awarded for the final workshop.
  Unit 6 Assignment
27 Points
Due 5:00 pm, Jun 17
submit assignment